Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Perfect Note (Part 2): Cam's Music Notables

Alright. Yesterday I encouraged you all to appreciate your video games for their musical value. Today, I will give some examples of video game music that affected me in the ways I referred to yesterday, and tell you about why they are so memorable to this day. Heck maybe you'll actually use that BGM test option that they put in the game the next time you play... Get your headphones out and plugged in! Let's get started, shall we?

Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Notable Music: ALL OF IT

If you're playing Luigi you might want to go start cooking your food now... it's going to be a while before your turn...

This one is simply a no brainer. Quite possibly the most notable music of a few generations. Chances are, you've played this game. And chances are even greater that you know at least two or three of the musical themes in it. Even those who have never played a video game in their lives will recognize the Overworld Theme if someone else were to hum it. BUT, only a few of you probably know the ending theme that you get to hear after you beat the game. Go ahead and think about it for a second... I won't hold it against you if you've never heard it. It took me till I was nearly in college before I got around to beating the game and hearing it myself. If you've never gotten a chance I've posted a link to the Ending Theme below. Spoilers for those too prideful to hear it without beating the game...

Star Fox Assault (GCN)
Notable Music: Star Wolf Theme

It's no Star Fox 64... but it's better than Star Fox Adventures...

The Star Fox franchise has always been an interesting one for many reasons. Lots of people are fans of the Space Animals (pretty accurate fan nickname) from their inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. series of games. The original Star Fox is notable for being one of just a handful of games released with the Super FX chip for the Super Nintendo (it allowed the console to render 3D graphics which, back then, was really, REALLY awesome). But most people who are familiar with the games know them for being one of the last mainstream rail shooters out there (except, of course, Star Fox Adventures which was a Zelda clone... but that's a whole nother debacle...).

Star Fox Assault was somewhat a return to the series' railshooting roots, but it added in some third person action sequences that many fans of the series could have done without. What makes this instalment stand out among the others is the fact that the entire soundtrack was performed by The Tokyo New City Orchestra. To sum that up in geek speak: You are playing an actual space opera backed by an orchestra. Not only that, but much of the music is reimagined from the previous games. That's right, no more music board made chiptunes, baby. Real instruments. How. Dope. Is. That!? If you don't think that dogfighting planes in space to fanfares and cymbal crashes would be awesome just check out my favorite song from the soundtrack - The rival Star Wolf's team theme played as backdrop while you and your crew have to shoot them out of the sky. It's so cool that I had the trumpet solo as my ringtone for a while.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (DC/ARC/PS2/PS3/360)
Notable Music: the character selection theme
Fight M. Bison with Wolverine... WITH LOUNGE JAZZ!
Capcom has owned the fighting crossover genre ever since the Street Fighter series has been in existence. No fighting game can boast the prowess of MvC2, however. With its massive roster of playable characters, its over the top, screen filling, 3-on-3 flamboyant fighting style, and its flat out awkward and nonsensical music, MvC2 may be the most distinct of the entire Capcom Vs. series. The game itself is still played competitively to this day, 14 years after its release. But the music it's so take-it-or-leave-it weird that... well... beating people up to lounge jazz and big band music is just... just imagine that you've chosen your team of Ryu, Magneto, and Wolverine and your next opponent team consists of Thanos, Akuma, and a Sentinel, and you're fighting in what looks to be Hell, and this music comes on... Yeah... I don't know if the musical directors were trolling or just trying something new. Either way, it's got our attention...
Monster Hunter 3/Ultimate (Wii/3DS/WiiU)
Notable Music: various battle themes
Dude, you're going to need some better weapons and armor...
Sometimes in a game the music can be notable because there is a lack of it. In games where a certain realistic or scary subtlety is desired the music composer may choose to play music very lightly or not at all. Horror movies commonly use this effect to build tension for jump scares (absolute silence is pretty creepy, after all). Monster Hunter is one of those games that uses music to denote that something eventful is actually happening. For much of the time that the player is not going toe to toe with some giant beasty, the game simply doesn't play any music. Instead it opts for ambient sound effects of whatever environment you happen to be jogging around in.
Once one of the monsters actually spots you however, a scare chord strikes alerting you that the fight is imminent. Your character may flinch as the monster sizes you up. The roar comes and announces that the situation is now dire for both human and monster parties involved and the music kicks up to high gear. The battle is on. I can rave about al of the things that make this series awesome but I will bite my tongue for now and instead, simply show you this early epic fight against the Lagiacrus where the music distinctly adds tension.
 You only need to watch from 55s to 2m to get the gist - *Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate - Lagiacrus Battle*
Kirby Air Ride (GCN)
Notable Music: all the Kirby music
TWO Kirbys with bombs!?! This won't end well for anyone here...
First things first: Kirby is NOT a Pokémon. Yes, I know he looks like Jigglypuff, but Kirby came first. Hard to believe, I know, just take my word for it.
Now that that's out of the way...
I'm a huge Kirby fan. Three or four of my most played games of all time would probably be Kirby games, which is amazing because they are traditionally short games with small replay value. HAL Laboratory (the makers of Kirby games, and Smash Bros.) have a way of fashioning music that is perfect for setting the mood that they want regardless of what is happening on screen. And Kirby games are the perfect medium.
Simply put, the music composers do a great job of changing Kirby and his environments from cute and cuddly to bonified badass just by changing the music. And they tend to do it by rearranging the same musical compositions and motifs over and over to fit the setting. The Kirby Air Ride soundtrack is fantastic evidence, as it is composed of original compositions, remixes of old music, and music from the older games themselves (namely the Kirby's Superstar [SNES] era) and they all still work together in the same game in different settings and moods. Linked below are the original first stage songs and its updated versions for Superstar and Air Ride. Same musical motif, completely different context.
Kirby's Dream Land (GB) original, for reference - *Green Greens (GB)*
Kirby Superstar (SNES) first stage music, featured in Air Ride - *Spring Breeze*
Air Ride version -  *Green Greens (GCN)*
Feel free to take a listen to anything else on the Air Ride OST it's all good and fairly different. And awesome. Etc.
Anywho, that's a decent sized sample of some of the most influential music in my video gaming life so far. What kind of game music do you have for me to sample? Should I have included Zelda in there somewhere (I excluded Zelda for a reason)? Hopefully you will think they are pretty good even outside the context of their games. Share some music with me and I'll be ready to chat you up next week with more video game goodness!
~Cameron Moore

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Perfect Note (Part 1): Musical Balance In Video Games

Hiya folks! It's Cam here back after a month long of neglect, sitting on a few articles that are now no longer relevant. But I digress! I am back to discuss (and snark on) more on the world of video games!

What I was doing instead of finishing articles...

One of the most amusing things to talk about with video game fanboys, for me, is video game music.
Any lover of Eastern RPGs (JRPGs, turn based RPGs, Pokémon, etc.) will almost certainly talk about how great and amazing the music is in the games that they love (...and most of it certainly is pretty good). However, they usually follow it up by referencing some obscure song that, for you, was just some background noise that was happening while you were making a sandwich during that ten minute cutscene.

Don't look at me like that Final Fantasy! You know I was talking about you!

For the most part, the majority of gamers - the casual gamers, if you will - care about two things: gameplay and graphics. Sound effects are often overlooked and cast aside as unnecessary. Background musical elements, even moreso. But if you let them they can be as integral a part of your game as any other element. This article will discuss and celebrate the work of those who compose the background music in games.

Hatty gets it!

First things first: How do you know how integral is music in your current game? This one is pretty easy. While there are many things that can push your focus toward video game music, all of them are fairly easy to notice.
*Does the game mention its music in its advertising or box art?
*Is the music balanced to be fairly loud in comparison to sound effects by default?
*Does the game have music that stands out and sounds NOT generic?
*Does the game use the same stand out music for lots of situations?
*Does the game have remixes for the same stand out music for different situations?
*Is the music recognizable from an earlier instalment from the series?

Anamanaguchi, huh? Must be good!

If you answered 'yes' to any of those things then the musical composers are high fiving each other right now. Their job is to make you thing about music in a medium that could be entirely visual and touch interactive. They made you listen and they deserve a raise.

And Robin as the annoying guy from level design always looking over your shoulder... No high fives for him!

But in all reality, think about how hard that job is. Think about the last game you played and the soundtrack that was with it. Do you think you'll remember that music once you start your next gaming endeavor? If it's generic enough you probably don't even remember what it sounds like right now.

Licensed music doesn't count... Although it is awesome.

"But Cameron," you might rebut, "There are lots of video game songs that should inherently recognizable by any self proclaimed video game practitioner. Yes, this is true. And the reasons I am talking about here are EXACTLY what make those particular songs and arrangements classic. Think about all the games you've ever thought were amazing. How many of them do you know the music to like you know the music of Super Mario Bros.? It's okay. I'll wait.

Everyone sing along! Do-do-doo  do-do-doo    do...

The answer is probably not very many. Because many video games can be played and enjoyed without a soundtrack the musical aspect tends to get overlooked. I hope that the next time you pick up your sticks (that's slang for joysticks, which is slang for controller...) this article compels you to appreciate the people out there who are attempting to enhance your experience through melodies. APPRECIATE!

Make sure you come back tomorrow for Part 2 and find out about some of the most notable songs and soundtracks in my gaming life!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Top 5: Comedy

By S. R. Ellis

In celebration of the latest episode of the FilmGeeks podcast being released, I've decided to do a lovely post about my personal Top 5 Comedy Movies of all time!

So, let's dive right in. Some of these will be franchises, as narrowing down to one in a continuation can be difficult. 

5. Happy Gilmore

This is a classic for me. My father and I would always watch this movie together and it was a staple in our VCR. Adam Sandler is also one of my favorite comedians of all time. He still can't make a movie I won't giggle at. Yes, even his recent endeavors. I know, it is a unpopular opinion, most think he lost his "mojo" a long time ago. To me, Happy Gilmore is a representation of the golden age of comedy. American Pie spiced things up in 1999 with risque antics we hadn't seen in a major motion picture before, and Superbad revolutionized this genre, and I don't believe we've turned back since. The more raunchy it is, the better it seems to do in the box office. I'm not knocking those movies, I truly love them, but I think Adam Sandler's style of comedy got left behind in this new world of comedy. To me, he'll never die. Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and even Grown Ups will always hold a special place in my heart. This is why Happy Gilmore is in my top 5. It hasn't ceased to stop making me laugh in all the years I've been watching it, and that makes a good comedy movie. 

4. 21/22 Jump Street (Reboots)

These two caught me off guard. I had no desire to see the 21 Jump Street reboot, and it wasn't until months after it was released on DVD that my friend and I sat down to watch it, having heard it wasn't terrible. Apparently this is how most of the fans of the reboot discovered it. The DVD sales far surpassed what it did at the box office, and ultimately led to the sequel being made. I have never laughed so unexpectedly hard at a film in my life. What an instant classic. They took the fact that it was a typical Hollywood reboot and used that to their advantage by calling themselves out as the plot unfolded. (Spoilers ahead) The cherry on top for me was the cameo by Johnny Depp in the ending scene, it was truly magical and brought the whole thing together. Channing Tatum also really showed his acting abilities and range in this role. He is one of the most versatile actors of this generation. He can do almost any role thrown his way, and I think it was a smart move to do this film because he gained a whole new fan base that probably couldn't care less about him before this. Plus, the ending credit scenes in 22 Jump Street are pee-your-pants worthy. 

3. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy

Will Ferrell is a classic character actor, and Ron Burgandy is one of my favorites of his. I haven't watched the sequel, simply because I don't want the magic of the original ruined. But, I have heard from many a people that it was a decent follow up. The ensemble cast of this film is a great compilation of some talented comedians. Each character has such an abrasive personality, they all come together quite perfectly for some side splitting scenes. I haven't been able to get the epic battle of newscasters out of my brain since watching this so many years ago. Literally as I'm typing this I'm chuckling thinking about all the news teams nearly, and sometimes actually, killing each other. Also, this movie had a plot. Some comedies with big stars I feel try too hard to do more jokes than to keep the plot progressing, but in this movie we see a true evolution of a man from top to bottom, then climb back to top. It's a hilarious tale I will always keep on my video shelf. 

2. The Cornetto Trilogy

One name: Edgar Wright. No, scratch that, TWO names: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. No, scratch that again, THREE names: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. Honestly, this series is a true masterpiece, and you may not even know the three films are connected. The Cornetto Trilogy is comprised of three films: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End. Each of which were directed by Wright, a true visionary of comedy. Each were written by Wright and Pegg. And each starred Pegg and Frost. The duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is one that I don't think can be beat by any other comedy duo today. The only one that I think comes close would be the pairing of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but even some of their sketches or movies together weren't as promising as everything Frost and Pegg have put out together. Shaun of the Dead is a classic parody style movie that completely stands on it's own. You don't even think about Dawn of the Dead while watching it. It is just a gory, hilarious depiction of a zombie apocalypse. Hot Fuzz is brilliant, a classic cop film Wright-afied. The World's End is also a perfect tale of brotherhood and drinking, and maybe the end of the world. I don't want to go into too much detail, as unfortunately this series is not as well known outside the cult following as it should be. If you are reading this and haven't watched any of these films I suggest you get yourself a copy to enjoy. All will become instant favorites. 

1. Zoolander

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as male models. I mean, what more could you want? I doubt there is a person reading this who hasn't seen this film. It's one of Stiller's most recognizable performances. On it's surface it's a comedy making fun of the ditzy nature of models; at its core it is an action packed conspiracy movie. There honestly isn't a whole lot I can say about this movie. It is one of the best films of the early 2000's, one I know many people have re-watched over and over. Like many of Stiller's comedy films it was made in a layered way so each time you watch it you catch a joke you haven't heard before. I still quote it in almost every day conversation. Which may, or may not be annoying. But I don't care, because I love Zoolander and I don't care who knows it!

Well, those are my five, this list is obviously highly debatable, as comedy is so subjective depending on the personality of the viewer. What's your top 5 comedies of all time? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rian Johnson

With the recent announcement that Rian Johnson will be playing a major role in Episode 8 and 9 of Star Wars, I figured it was my due-diligence as a Rian Johnson and Star Wars fan girl to make my first “Behind The Scenes” post about the writer/director/folk music artist, Mr. Rian Johnson.

Johnson's films speak volumes of his talent. The executives at Disney made a perfect decision to utilize his skill and vision in Episodes 8 and 9 of the franchise so near and dear to all of our hearts. His motion picture body of work, Brick, The Brother’s Bloom, and Looper (thus far), are absolutely astounding, but what about the man who brought us these wonderful cinematic masterpieces? What is he like in real life? What are his hobbies, likes, and dislikes? How does he take his coffee? Does he even drink coffee?

This is what the people need to know. While I most likely won’t be able to answer all of these questions, as much to my dismay I'm not a personal acquaintance of Johnson, I can do my best with the resources of the magical Internet to try and get a better idea of what this man is like. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the gentleman who made me laugh and cry whilst watching The Brother's Bloom, cringe watching Brick, and sit on the edge of my seat during Looper. 

So, let’s begin at the start of his life. 

Rian Johnson was born in Maryland on December 17, 1973. He moved to California at a young age and ultimately graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1996.

The majority of his first film, Brick, was actually filmed where he attended high school in San Clemente, CA. 

Johnson finished the script for Brick when he was 23. Filming for Brick didn't begin until he was 30. This was due to lack of financial backing for the "unusual" script.

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes in 2006, Johnson said this in regards to getting Brick off the ground:

"But it (getting Brick financed) was just a matter of sticking to our guns, refusing to change the script to make it easier to swallow, and not giving up until it came together. And eventually, it did. We figured out the smalled amount we could shoot for on 35mm, then begged and borrowed from friends and family. At the end of the day, Brick was financed entirely independently for just under $500,000. We then lucked out and got into Sundance, where we doubly lucked out and were picked up by Focus Features."
As an independent author, this is inspiring. It took them six years to get Brick up and running, and Johnson never gave up. I'm sure there were many times doubt and fear crept into his brain about his script, yet he never actually changed it to make it conform to any one's expectations of what his film should be.

After Brick was picked up by Focus Features and released on DCD, Johnson was free to start on a second project, The Brother's Bloom; my personal favorite of his work. For those who haven't seen The Brother's Bloom, I suggest you find a copy to purchase as soon as you finish this article. 

You can feel Johnson's passion and love for film making while watching this picture. From the actor's portrayals of their characters, to the intriguing and witty plot line, Johnson directed a true masterpiece. I've nearly worn out my copy from watching it so many times, my poor XBOX must be sick of reading it. 

The Brother's Bloom is the story of two brothers (Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo) who were con-men from a very young age, and what happens when one brother (Brody) decides he wants a change. Together, they meet a rich, eccentric woman who collects hobbies (Rachel Weisz) and hi-jinks ensure from there.

This being only Johnson's second motion picture, and the first following an entirely independent operation with Brick, the process was obviously completely different. This time he was working with bigger stars, larger sets in Eastern Europe, and with the financial backing of a major studio.  

In an interview with FilmSchoolRejects.com, Johnson had this to say about the changes:

"It was a concern of mine coming into this, because it was a much bigger production than Brick. We were working with bigger scale, bigger elements, bigger stars and all the rest of it, but it ended up being just as much of a pleasure. It ended up feeling very similar to Brick in terms of the environment on the set, so I was happy."

It speaks a lot to his character as a director and a human being that he can be thrown in a completely different scenario than his first film, and keep a similar morale on set. 

This film has a lot to do with the concept of brotherhood and what is means to be family and loyal to your kin. Johnson is actual a part of a folk duo with his cousin called "The Preserves". His brother is also an accomplished musician and Johnson himself plays the banjo. His love for his family especially comes across in The Brother's Bloom. 

After The Brother's Bloom came Looper, a film I'm sure most of you have seen or heard of. It was a wide release major motion picture that came out September of 2012.

Johnson reunited with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this sci-fi adventure with a much different tone than any of his other films. 

Which brings me to another aspect of Johnson's career I admire:

All of Rian Johnson's films are unique and can stand alone. 

I feel most directors fall into a funk at some point in their career where all of their projects have a stagnant feel to them. Which I suppose is a natural course of things, I know it happens to many an author, actor, and artist of other mediums as well, so it is only natural for it to happen to a filmmaker. 

And by no means am I saying this is an absolute. Plenty of directors and writers have more than successful careers staying away from this "funk", but unfortunately a vast amount do not. Johnson however is an exception, maybe not a rare exception, but an exception to the "slump" rule nonetheless. Brick, The Brother's Bloom, and Looper are all fantastic films, and each individual movie is completely different from the other. 

He has also directed a number of episodes of the hit show Breaking Bad that are critically acclaimed and have been nominated for several awards. 

I could probably go on talking about Rian Johnson and his truly gifted film making prowess for much longer, but I know you really want to go watch all of the Rian Johnson movies in your collection. So, in closing, Rian Johnson is a class act film maker. He makes entertaining, meaningful, thought-provoking movies, and most importantly, he makes them well. That is what Rian Johnson does, and I personally am so grateful for them all, and can't wait for more to come.

If the past is any indication to the future, Episodes 8 and 9 of Star Wars will be epic and awe-inspiring masterpieces that we'll be lucky to experience on the big screen. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Get On My Level!

E3 2014 is officially up and running now. Every gamer is bustling with excitement surrounding the next year's releases. Fanboys are buzzing on about why their favorite console or game or company is going to blow yours out of the water this fall. Non-next geners are waiting, cash-in-fist, to be convinced either to toss it at a next gen system or to hold on to it until Black Friday (where they will inevitably make the same considerations again)... And then there's is me... staring at the opening press conferences like this...
Actual selfie.

Okay, okay. I confess that it isn't quite that bad. It actually looks more like this...

Notice the angry reluctance at unhanding next month's rent.

I do have to admit, however, that each year when E3 comes around I do find myself less and less enamored by the goings on. Anyone who knows my taste in gaming wouldn't find this shocking in the slightest. But for the other 7.6 billion of you out there... Well, you could say that I am an indie-hipster gamer, of sorts. Don't let that scare you away. I could have a conversation about how cool Halo 5 looks or how excited we all are for Mortal Kombat X, but I'm somewhat of a devil's advocate when it comes to what's worth buying myself and what's worth heading over to a friend's house for. There are methods for my madness. Three fundamental principles that have defined my gaming nature since I was a wee lad. Hear me out and understand why the opinion of a self-proclaimed hipster may not always be bad.

A screenshot from a fantastic game you've never played: Endless Ocean: Blue World (/hipsterism).

#1. I'm a SNES era gamer at heart.

Yes. The old fogey's defense, as I refer to it. I imagine what this will sound like this in about 10 to 20 years: “Back in my day I used to bike to the laundry mat in hurricane force winds just to play the House of the Dead arcade game! And the light gun on the right was miscalibrated so badly that you had to shoot at the ceiling to hit anything! And I had to bike through an overflowing river to get there! And I had to bring all of the family's laundry to wash with me! And I still had to be home before dark!”

So many wasted quarters...

You get the picture. Old people tell stories about the good ol' days because it's memorable to them. They can relate to the things that they have already experienced. For gamers, it tends to be that way too. Almost anyone my age (that's about thirty for those keeping score) will remember games that they owned in the past fondly. Even if those games weren't their favorites when they did play them. Because I know this, I like to reexpose myself to the days of yore as often as possible to make sure that I am not misguided for suggesting that Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City isn't a bad game (and I stand by that assertion... but that argument is for another article).

This is a thing that actually happened... And I, at some point, will defend it...

The important idea to understand from this rambling is my first foundational idea of gaming:

*If you enjoyed it then, you will likely enjoy it now.

...and if you enjoyed this, you're probably a sadist... but more power to ya'!

#2. I don't/haven't ever kept up with the current gen.

It's true. When I was four I received an NES and a TV for Christmas. That was 1989. Four years after the release of Super Mario Bros. Guess what my first game was? That's right. Super Mario Bros. And guess what game was still fun when I played it for my first time, years after its release? Tetris! Oh, yea, and Super Mario Bros.... but that was hard, so I didn't play it as much.

When the SNES debuted in '91 I was glued to my television every time I saw an ad for Super Mario World. After owning and playing Mario Bros. 2 and 3 I knew that this next game was going to be absolutely amazing. My mother, in an unsuccessful attempt to keep me from spiraling toward eternal video game geekdom, declared that I could only have one video game system at a time, and my second grade aged self determined that it would probably be for the best to enjoy my amassed collection of 8-bit treasure rather than to throw it all away for the newest 16-bit glory. Logic held that my friends would probably con their parents into buying one for them, and I could just go over a friend's house to play. It paid off in dividends as I got to experience the best of both worlds, even if it was only on occasion.

Road Rash: The primary reason for visiting my friend Adam.

Eventually, around 1994-95, I ended up bored with my collection and giving in to the 16-bit era like everyone else had.

Me playing NES, circa 2000.

This trend continued on with the Gamecube, Dreamcast, Playstation, PS2, Wii, and even the Xbox360. Come to think of it, I've never owned any console within two years of its release window aside from the Nintendo 64 (that Super Mario 64 was just too good to pass up!)... But I've developed, for myself, an important second foundational principle:

*Buying later means buying cheaper and having (generally) larger libraries.
Oh, these? These are just my instruction manuals.

#3.My scrutinizing eye has rarely failed me.

This might be the most indie thing about my taste in gaming: While many gaming fans already have their money in hand ready to throw it at any awesome thing they see, my approach to anything video game related tends to be more reserved. Generally speaking, in the past ten years or so, there has only been about one or two games that I see at E3 in a given year that make me go, “Yes! This is a pre-order game!” Don't get me wrong, I see a metric-butt-ton of stuff that looks super cool and awesome every year, but it takes more than just looking awesome to pry sixty bucks out of my hands.

E3 is supposed to be innovative and evocative. The games there are supposed to feel new and fresh. Newer and fresher than a regular any other time of the year reveal. If it doesn't stand out to me as being dramatically unlike anything I have seen before or vastly different from it's predecessor (if it's a sequel) then it probably isn't for the E3 reserved cash.

Sadly, I can't explain exactly what I'm looking for when I make those determinations about what catches my eye. Things just... do.

While everyone else was playing Contra, I was feeding gorillas bubble gum!

For example, looking at last years exhibition list these are the titles which caught my eye:

Elder Scrolls Online
Duck Tales: Remastered
Disney Infinity
Plants Vs Zombies 2
Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
Sunset Overdrive
Project X Zone
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Mario Kart 8
Pikmin 3
Pokemon X and Y
Super Smash Bros. (for Wii U and 3DS)
Rayman Legends
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
Scribblenauts: Unmasked
Rune Factory 4

Want to take a guess at how many of those games I've actually gotten around to play?

A: 9/19

Do you know how many of them I actually own?

A: 2/16 (Three of them still haven't been released at the time of writing this.)
Project X Zone: An obscure game that references even more obscure games... I don't own it (/anti-hipsterism).
Do they all still look as awesome now as they did then? Certainly not. Do I still plan on purchasing more of those games in the future? Surely. Am I happy with the games that I did get? Most definitely.

What caused most of these to get pushed to the backburner is time and money, honestly. If I bought everything that I wanted I would have a huge backlog of games that I never really played (I'm looking at you, Steam...). As I type this, right now, I have a copy of LA Noire and Batman Arkham City that don't even have 3 hours logged on them, combined. And those are two “Game of the Year” type games. Don't get me wrong. The short amount of time that I spent with them has been fun. The hitch is that I bought them at the same time that I purchased Rocksmith 2014; a game that I'd been waiting to play for ages prior. A game that, in fact, had been demonstrated at E3 2013 (but didn't catch my eye until around Christmas). They had no playable chance upon their acquisition, because I already knew that they were good and fun. Every outlet of media and gamers had already told me. But I absolutely needed to see what Rocksmith 2014 was about then and there. And so, it ended up getting the attention that Arkham City and LA Noire garnered from so many others.

Splendor I have not yet witnessed.
Even now, after my initial infatuation with Rocksmith 2014 has dwindled, been replaced by Hitman: Absolution, NBA 2K14, Saints Row: The Third, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (2nd playthru), Forza Horizon (2nd playthru), and even Rocksmith 2014 again from time to time, it's still probably going to take some time before I delve deeply into Arkham and Noire for one simple reason: The games that I am really looking forward to play have priority over the games that everyone else says I should play. I mean, I already know that they are good. I would rather experience something that you can't tell me about (if that's not indie-hipsterish I don't know what is...). Which vaguely brings me to my final principle:

*Play what you like. Video games are meant to be fun!

This was (and still probably is) your dad's Modern Warfare.

There are all kinds of gamers out there that play different things for different reasons. So, what do you think? What drives you to play the kinds of games that you play? What games do you think I may have missed out on because I've played against type? Do you think I used too many graphics?

Either way, check for my article in the coming week to find out what actually DID catch my eye at E3 this year and compare your gaming pallet with mine.

~Cameron Moore

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

While I was watching How to Train Your Dragon 2 in IMAX 3D, I kept thinking to myself about how beautiful the film was. The original had a wonderful concept: vikings fighting dragons that eventually ended up working together for a greater good. Don't get me wrong, the first movie had great animation and the character designs were all superb. But something about this sequel made my jaw drop like no other DreamWorks animated film had before. If you are looking for a beautiful animated film that has a nice enough story and wonderful character animations, then How to Train Your Dragon 2 is most definitely for you.

As I previously said, this movie has some of the best looks I have ever seen in a DreamWorks animated film. The dragons fly freely around the Viking village of Berk this time around, and look better than ever, and it isn't every year that we get to see characters that have grown older and have changed so much in between sequels. How to Train Your Dragon 2 takes place several years after the original movie and its television series, and the animators did excellent work in making the characters look naturally older. Toothless and Hiccup have grown leaps and bounds in their relationship and have developed new ways of flying, fighting, and mapping out the entire world outside of Berk.

This is where the story comes in, as Hiccup learns he must grow up much sooner than he thought. In the opening scene of the movie, we learn that Hiccups father, the chief of Berk, propositioned him to become chief soon. Hiccup goes through a lot in this film, but ultimately grows for the better. I will be honest here, the story did not captivate me as the previous film did, and it felt like it was about 15-20 minutes too long, but overall, it was a great story and one that many viewers will enjoy.

Here is where I will warn you: this movie is quite dark for a children's movie. The theme of death is apparent throughout the entire film as the main antagonist, Drago Bloodfist, seeks to capture all dragons and use them in order to conquer the world. Drago has no qualms with killing any of his men and orders the dragons to kill anything they possibly can in one fight scene. This movie can be a bit intense for younger viewers, and I was quite surprised at how dark the film truly was.

Although the film can get quite dark at times, there is an overarching theme of the value of family within this film, one that takes precedence over death. I wont spoil anything for you all here, but there are many heartwarming moments within the film and the characters alone will melt your heart all over again.

Overall, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a great children's film, one that I enjoyed and would enjoy seeing again. Do notice my warnings though, as the film can get a bit dark in places and death is a common theme throughout the film. I am giving How to Train Your Dragon 2 a whopping 4.5/5 stars as I feel that it had a beautiful environment, wonderful characters, and a world that I didn't want to leave.

Until next time, feel free to check out our latest video podcast all about Maleficent and Scott Pilgrim vs The World! Thanks for reading and be sure to check back periodically for new articles on our website!

-David "Macks" Mackay

Friday, June 6, 2014

Welcome to the FilmGeeks Articles Page!

Hey there everyone!

We are very excited to bring you the FilmGeeks Podcast now available on YouTube and iTunes! We hope that you enjoy your stay here at the FilmGeeks website, and be sure to check back at this page for some premium articles and other content written by our very own Mike, Shayla, and the other members of FilmGeeks!

Feel free to check out the podcast in which ever way you see fit, and we can't wait to share more with you all! Thank you for your visit!