…All’s right with the world.

You know how it is when you spend so long waiting for something that eventually you stop checking?

A couple of years ago Hideaki Anno, Gainax and Studio Khara announced the Rebuild of Evangelion project. It’s aim to retell Neon Genesis Evangelion across four theatrical movies. The first three focusing on updating the original series with the addition of several new elements including new characters and at least two new EVA’s. The fourth film is intended to give the franchise an alternative ending(at least its fourth variation across all Media).

Grand plans indeed. The first of the four movies was released in September of 2007 and was pretty much a straight remake of the first six episodes of the series, none of Anno’s plans became apparent in the actual movie, its not until the teaser trailer for part two at thee end of the movie that there is anything for the fan to get greasey-excited about. Here we are treated to glimpses of a new Eva model. our first look at the redesign of Eva 02 and our first glimpse of a young girl with brown hair and spectacles who may or may not be a new pilot. Pretty exciting stuff.

Then things went quiet though. The originally planned release date of January 2008 came and went, anime magazine Newtype anounced that the film would now be released in December 2008, almost a whole year after the original date. October 2008 the official website published enigmaticly that the second film wouldn’t be released until “Early summer 2009”, it was starting to look like the rebuild project was going the same way as the ill-fated western Movie.

That’s what I thought any way, an as time went on I stopped checking, until today I tapped it into Google looking for a UK release date for Book 12 of the manga, what I found instead was a new trailer for the second movie, and a confirmed release date of June 27 2009.

While I realise that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, since I first saw the series I’ve loved it, it features a complexity to it’s characters that I find fascinating and while many of it’s themes are cod philosophy, psychology and theology at best it’s still probably more thought provoking than your average Dan Brown adaptation.  And it has giant robots (sort of), take that Hanks!

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It is Time.

Don’t know how many of our regular or irregular readers were watching the Grammys last night, I’m thinking not all that many.

Green Day
Green Day

Right before the nominations for best album came the small piece of news that I, and many others have been waiting for for about the last five years.  Green Day‘s new album will be released in May this year, and it’s called 21st Century Breakdown.

No clues as to what to expect musically, though if you follow the link above to the official site and sit around for a while the opening bars of something which may (or may not) be the title track start playing.

Since American Idiot the band have parted ways with their long time producer Rob Cavallo who has worked with the band since from Dookie to AI. 21st CB will instead be produced by Butch Vig.  Formerly the Drummer of grunge band Garbage Vig has been working as a producer since the early eighties, and his credits include Nirvana’s Nevermind and Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream.  He has also worked on albums with Soul Asylum, Sonic Youth and Jimmy Eat World (Every CV needs a black mark).

Speaking with UK music magazine NME in December last year Billie Joe Armstrong suggested that the then un-named album could be taking a more power-pop direction, naming Cheap Trick, The Who and The Beatles as possible influences.  In a surprisingly honest interview Armstrong said “How do you take something… and try to expand on the idea of what is supposed to be three-chord mayhem?”

“How do you do it in a way where the arrangements are just unpredictable? So I’m pushing myself to be progressive in songwriting and being a songwriter.”

The new Album cover-art.  Similar in style to the single artwork from American Idiot.
The new Album cover-art. Similar in style to the single artwork from American Idiot.

As a Green Day fan, what does all this mean to me?  The change in style suggestion isn’t really all that shocking considering that it is possible to listen to any of the five albums from Dookie to American Idiot and find something musically different, though still very much Green Day, will anything from the new album be as much a departure as the segue from Eastern European folk to Mexican Mariachi in Misery from Warning?  I’m thinking possibly not.

I’ve been a Green Day fan for about fifteen years now, since a friend passed me a tape with Dookie on one side, and Kerplunk on the other.  While some bands never change I’ve seen Green Day grow and mature as I’ve grown and matured I’ve seen them come from the music of the minority to making an Album which has topped Charts the world over.  The only concern I have at the moment is when tickets for the obligatory World Tour go on Sale.

The Most Expensive Game Ever (TM)

Richie Sambora, Guitar Hero
Richie Sambora, Guitar Hero

As, already mentioned in these hallowed pages for me the stand out game of 2008 for me was Guitar Hero World Tour.  The reasoning behind this in honesty has very little to do with the innovation on show in the game but comes down to the fact that I’ve enjoyed GHWT more than any other game this year.

The game mechanics are pretty much unchanged since GH3 (well, since Guitar Hero really), the newly implemented slide bar on the neck of the guitar is  the only innovation and is ignorable.  The vertical difficulty curve from GH3 has been dispensed with, though it has been replaced with something more akin to a difficulty scatter graph, this isn’t as much of a curb on progression as in previous iterations though now that the game difficulty level can be changed mid play-list (My sticking point was Today by The Smashing Pumpkins, damn near impossible on medium, probably just me though).

If innovation was important to a GH game to be honest we’d still all be playing Guitar Hero, what matters to a GH game is the music, World Tour is no exception to this with a whopping 86 tracks, all based on master recordings, placing it well above main rival Rock Band’s 58.  Quantity is not always everything, quality has to be considered and this is where GHWT potentially comes unstuck.  Musical taste is subjective and while Activision has attempted to provide something for everyone, inorder to cover all bases it is possible to spread yourself thin.  I’d say that this is avoided, however I pretty much fit the demographic to which the playlist is geared, which appears to be a punk-metal Rockabilly with one foot planted firmly in the eighties and one ear in Seattle around 1991.

I refer to GHWT as the expensive game ever, and at £150 for the full band set  up this is more than I’ve spent on consoles in the past, the price tag is not where it ends however, The Guitar Hero frachise always ends up costing me money as it represents a large influence on my music collection.  The month following a GH release will often see me spending hundreds of pounds on albums.  GH is responsible for me listening to Avenged Sevenfold, Dragonforce (so therefore ultimately responsible for the stain on my buddy Poki’s living room carpet), Creedance Clearwater Revival and Tool.  GH is also responsible for rediscovering bands just by looking at their music in a different way, The Eagles for example it wasn’t until I played Hotel California on GHWT that I asked myself, “What else have have they done?”  Similar can be said of The Smashing Pumpkins, a band which I missed the first time around, also The Pretenders, Cheap Trick and Pearl Jam.

While the music in GHWT tends to throw up a few unexpected suprises I’d say that most are worth persevering as there’s a hell of a lot of triple A tunes to be had, some of the more obscure tracks may even suprise you.

All of this  subject to personal taste, I’m sure not everyone thinks that Livin’ on a Prayer is the best song ever written, and that is why you all fail.

Darick Robertson Draws Star Wars

As a chaser of abject awesomeness, check out this drawing by on Darick Robertson posted to the Growing Up Star Wars Flickr pool.


For those not in the know Darick is the artist behind Transmetropolitan, the other miscreant responsible is the perennial language abuser Warren Ellis. He also happens o be one of my favourite comic book artists evar.
Thanks to a Mr. Wil Wheaton for this internet treasure, whoever he is.

Chun-Li’s awesome thighs HD remix

The trailer for Capcom and Udon’s re-development of Super Street Fighter II has hit the internet.

Needs to be seen in HD for the full effect, even so, awwww Yeah!

The only cloud in my sky is there still hasn’t been an official release date set.

*Supplemental*

A date has been set, it misses my favouritest day of the week by a day, so expect me to be playing it next… Wednesday.

“Stop, stop! He’s already dead!”

Better Days
Better Days.

Apologies to all those ralph-fans out there(only lying to myself), I missed my post yesterday, to be honest I was a bit stuck for something to write, then I read a couple of things from which I found inspiration.  The first was an article on the escapist regarding games fanatasism, with particular focus on a certain spikey, blue mammal.  The second was Neil’s piece which linked to one particular fictional gem</lie> which excellently highlights the point I’m about to make.

Starting with an admission.  I am a Sonic the Hedgehog fan.  Since christmas 1991when my buddy Craig brought round his imported Japanese Mega Drive, I was hooked on the adventures of the speedy, blue one.  It was a whole year before I received my own Mega Drive along with both Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic 2, still the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received, If someone gave me the gift of world peace and an end to all war, it would still slot in at no. 2 behind that Mega Drive.

Sonic was a departure from every other game I’d played up to that Christmas, about the most visually impressive game I’d played up to this point had been in an arcade, something like maybe wonderboy, or possibly the TMNT arcade game.  I’d never considered recreating this at home possible, not on my Spectrum anyway which offered impressive art if you didn’t mind it monochrome, and with little or no sound.  Sonic completely blew everything before it out of the water, Green Hill Zone Act 1is in my opinion the best designed level for any game on any system, and a perfect showcase for what sonic games should be all about, speed.  Playing Sonic on Xbox live acade my best run through time for act 1 is 29 seconds, I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid I hit 27, but that might be youthful exuberance (or out and out lying).  That doesn’t mean though that you had to complete the first level quickly, If you meander through the level it’s no less rewarding but with so much speed to hand it seems like a shame not to use it.

Later games went on to add further characters from the good ((though confusing) Knuckles the Echidna, Miles”Tails” Prower, Amy Rose(sometimes)), the bad (Charmy Bee, Shadow the Hedgehog, Silver the Hedgehog, Big the Cat, Cream the Rabbit (Oh god it’s like yiffy paedophilia!)) and the Ugly (Big the Cat, again).

Right that’s the potted history out the way, what was I saying?  I love the whole Sonic franchise, unfortunately only in the same way that I love the whole Star Wars franchise, or the whole Indiana Jones franchise, that is after the first three entries I zone out and pretend that nothing else happened.  Deep down there’s a small, grey sinkhole in my heart where I bury all the bad things that happen to a franchise that meant something to me as a child, every time George Lucas sticks his dick into my childhood (thank you South Park) I just bury it away and pretend it never happened.  The same is true of Sonic team, following Sonic & Knuckles (the last of the 2D series on  the megadrive) came Sonic 3D, it wasn’t fast paced and the concept of roaming an isometric 3D plain looking for birdies was like playing a re-skinned version of Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters, only more disapointing what with the original being about ten years old by this point.

Sega, realising their mistake at setting Sonic in a 3D environment, went on to completely ignore it, with all of the main cannon games being made in 3D, and all but Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast receiving anything other than a critical mauling.  Meanwhile on the GBA and DS all of Sonic’s continued adventures in two dimensions have been praised by both fans and critics alike.

Mind you do I really expect anyone to take note of criticism, when the BTOC’s in town?  No of course not, the fact of the matter is that despite well deserved criticism Sonic the Hedgehog is not just a mascot for Sega anymore, but a mascot for the industry, Sonic is not only recognised by gamers but by people on the outside, particularly parents, grown up gamers who remember Sonic from before but no longer pay attention to the industry.  It’s this sense of a “safe bet” which has given Sonic a critic proof sales dynamic.

Apologies to the artist but I couldnt bring myself to use something derogatory
Apologies to the artist but I couldn't bring myself to use something truly derogatory, I quite liked this.

That and (Welcome to the dark places) Sonic fans that didn’t abandon the blue one when it was a sensible time to jump ship.  I’ve never understood the concept of fanboyism, of the Otaku, of the fanatic until I saw Sonic the Hedgehog fans.  If Sega’sefforts to force me away from the series hadn’t worked then the fans themselves just might.  Not that I’m critical of all fans, I’ve already said that despite Sega’s best efforts, I’m still a fan, thing is though as a fan, I’ve never really considered it necessary to produce badly spelt yiffy porn.  Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never revved up a Sonic game and thought “Y’know, this is good, but imagine if Sonic was taking Amy Rose roughly from behind while Tails tickles his balls.”  I just… seriously I’m lost for words.  I know for a fact that I don’t have to look very hard online to find hundreds of grotty fan-fictions of this very scene.  They’ve even got celebrity endorsement of a fashion thanks to Excel Saga creator Rikdo Koshi, who has in the past produced Sonic dojin.  This being Rikdo though I’d like to think that there was some reasoning behind his art, even if it was just one of the BTOC’s stop offs.

Funny 'cos it's true

I found this handy venn diagram on google images and I can’t help but think that this isn’t something only I’ve noticed, the internet’s saturated with it, possibly more-so than any other franchise (with the possible exception of Final Fantasy, though the quality of FF games has remained high, almost inspite of the garaunteed sales and obsessive fans)

I stated in my title he’s already dead, and I can’t help but think that in my mind Sonic is just that, I still remember the good times, I’ve got the original Sonic game on Live Arcade, and I’ll continue to enjoy it, will I ever buy a new Sonic the Hedgehog game?  no probably not, I can’t help but feel that Sega has long since rendered the franchise, and to that end Sonic himself dead to me.  It’s just sad that that hasn’t  stopped others who proclaim to love him from repeatedly raping his spikey, blue, attitude filled, corpse.

Stuporcollider meets JoCo and Paul & Storm

This Friday my compatriots and I shuffled down to Nottingham to visit Game City 3 for several varied yet interesting reasons.
Firstly I would like to announce that Ado and I are now official World Record holders! (Well, maybe not but we were part of the 1227 zombies in Nottingham city centre). Pictured are the zombies who were not constrained by crippling bouts of self awareness and actually got together to do the Thriller dance.

Later on, after receiving several strange looks from our fellow ale enthusiasts at The Olde Trip, still bedecked as the undead we marched on the Britannia Hotel, an Overlook-esq nightmare of seventies decor. Despite my well documented love of city center hoteliers we had the ulterior motive of attending Game City’s hallow’een party, featuring the wonderful Jonathan Coulton and the hilarious Paul & Storm.

Walking into the event, I was a little apprehensive. Tables and chairs do not normally a concert make. However after six or so pints of Caste Rock brewery’s guest ale, Fine Ale Fantasy, things began to seem much rosier. After meeting Mr. Coulton and Mr. Paul guiding their merch proles in the fine art of stealing all my money we sojourned to the main room to see the acts.

I don’t think I can impress upon you how truly fabulous I thought this gig was. Paul & Storm were fantastic, and we apparently dance like we’re at a Dropkick Murphy’s gig. Jonathan Coulton apparently was suffering from cold. I didn’t notice but I was down the best part of 10 pints by this point, and you’ll be pleased to know that your fearless editor Ado managed to hold up Mr. Storm from appearing in one of his songs by chatting US politics. I can only assume they were discussing Mrs. Palin’s lovely wardrobe (lie.)

Afterwards I managed to get to say hi to the artists, and I keep the British end up by being really quite drunk, huge, short haired, hoody wearing zombie lumbering around making comments that I just can’t remember. Ado has a picture of me actually touching Mr. Coulton and not slobbering like a fool but he is keeping it ransom until I can pay him the fee of 150 vintage 80’s metal tour t-shirts.

WIN!