Ongoing Investigations: Case #218

narutaki Thanks to Netflix I had a chance to sit down and watch Adventure Time S1. It is not as if I haven’t watched the show, I’ve just seen random episodes here and there, but I wanted to watch it in order from the beginning. Really there is no need to do this if the first season is any indication, but hey I like to do things in order when I can!

Things I took away from this season: LSP is the best princess with the best voice, George Tekai is always down for a laugh, the most over the kids’ heads joke was when they sack the nut castle, and Whywolves are creatures possessed by the spirit of inquiry . . . and bloodlust.

I really wish Netflix would add more seasons but it sounds like that won’t be happening for a long time. I will have to supplement myself with comics.

sep-cartoons

After a long break we get the return of The Venture Bros. in season five. I enjoyed season four but it just felt like it was one step below everything that came before it. Season four was good. I usually got several laughs every episode. Some of the stuff around the Revenge Society and S.P.H.I.N.X. was amazing. I did a whole post on Everybody Comes to Hank’s. It just was never as good as it was in the original three seasons. Something about the plots just felt like they were spinning their wheels despite a lot of things going on in each episode. It was fun but lacking that spark that made the earlier episodes more than just quotable pop culture romps.

Other than the recent Halloween special (which was more of a hype man for the new season than anything else) there has not been a regular episode since November 21, 2010. I did hear quite a bit of rumbling on the day that the new episode came out that people were not than enthusiastic about the return and perhaps they should have let the 4th season be the finale. And the last one hour episode would not have been the worst place to end things all things considered. But the Internet loves to be a group of snarky bastards who claim that everything is over or sycophantic fanboys who can’t see anything in front of them so it’s hard to it as any gauge of quality.

Maybe it is merely a case of absence making the heart grow fonder but I have been majorly grooving the first three episodes of the new season. In retrospect the Halloween special seemed like a strong return to form. But it is much harder to make a solid season than lead with a strong beginning and then never live up to that start. So far I don’t see that happening. I mean I might get a flood of comments about how the is the WORST … SEASON … EVER but that would require us to get comments. But so far I have not really heard hide nor hare about opinions of the new season. But I have been on Twitter much less lately so that might have a lot to do with that.

But I think the key to the new season is it feels fresh. As much as I said this season is a return to form in many ways by changing things up a little while still keeping things authentic it feels like some real progress. The main problem with season four is it felt that no matter what happened or what changed the whole things was just movement in place. A mile run in a circle still bring you back to the same place you started. The new season just has a different feeling of momentum. And it feels great.

Oh but really I want to see Dr. Orpheus this season. I love that guy. Something about his Doctor Strange melodrama turned up to c (because sometimes even 11 is just too small a number) just tickles my fancy.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

sep-videogames

HAHAHA!!! I have done it! I have beaten Fire Emblem for GBA! I’ve pretty much been playing this since the new 3DS Fire Emblem came out, so yeah.

In the last battle of this game, they do not play around. Literally, one mistake means someone will die and thus you must begin again. It is also a long battle where you must fight all the previous bosses, ugh, I hate those! Then you fight the real boss and then you a fight a dragon, all of this without any saving in between naturally. It was frustrating but then fighting a dragon was scary and awesome so it balanced out.

Lyn went back home and married Kent. Eliwood and Hector each had some random child. Rebecca and Lowen got married and had a green-haired son who was an archer. The end.

Oh, except there was a crazy and creepy epilogue which starts a new story which we never got in the States. Gee, thanks, why bother putting it in the U.S. release?

sep-videogames

Sorry but I have to start with a bit of an editorial say that we live in an age where you can legally get games for your computer for insanely low prices thanks to Steam. So all this hemming and hawing about console games needing to slay the foul used games market seems like a whole bunch of hooey and misplaced blame. I recently picked up 8 Tell Tale games for 5 dollars. That is a lot of adventure games. If you told Alain from 1995 that you could do that I would have assumed you were a crazy person and not a time traveler.

I mostly got the bundle for the Sam and Max game but did not mind the other games that came with it including the beloved Walking Dead Game. I knew most of the franchises in the bundle except one. Hector: Badge of Carnage was a complete unknown to me. Since all the other games were at least partially known quantities to me I decided to take a be an explorer and try the one game I knew nothing about.

Hector is a police officer in the town of sleazy city Clappers Wreake. All in all he is not that much better a man than the cesspool he lives in. But when a mysterious terrorists demands various moral beautification projects take place or he will start killing hostages Hector is the only officer not incompetent enough to stop him. But by the law of the action cop movie there is more to this crime than the simple gilding of the city.

One of the things that stand out about the game is it is cartoonishly vulgar. This is an adventure game where the solution to one of the puzzles is to take a homeless drug addict and package them as a love doll to get a return receipt. It that way it reminds me of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Also both of them have a bunch of jokes about feces. That seems to be the mainstay of the crude joke wheelhouse. I’m not sure what the general stereotype is about the humor of Northern Ireland but this is certainly not the dry wit you think of with British humor. Then again assuming anything that is true in England is true in Northern Ireland is a quick way to prove what they say about assumptions.

The adventure game parts are fairly fair. I think Tell Tale games has learned that people generally want their games to be hard but equitable. They should challenge you but always be intuitive. But much like the puzzles in a Professor Layton game they tend to run the gambit from far too easy to overly complex and confusing with the best puzzles landing firmly in the middle. The worst are always the ones where you say “Why did you think anyone would come to that conclusion?” or are held up because you were not diligent enough in your pixel hunting. The puzzles generally land on the good side of difficult.

But knowing how games work in this modern age (and the fact that you can’t sell hint guides with GameFAQs only a few second away) they just have a hint system built into the game. They shame you whenever you use it but that is the standard method of keeping your hand out of the cookie jar too often. Still that does not excuse puzzles that are too obtuse. It just makes them far less annoying.

But I’m probably thinking a lot about that because of the Extra Credits video I watched recently.

Overall it was a fun game. With three parts it lasted along enough that I did not feel horrible about burning through the game too quickly but another chapter probably would have felt way too long. The game was fun but if I had bought it alone I think I would have felt a bit underwhelmed. But as part of the bundle made it feel like much more like a value.

sep-liveaction

My first movie of the summer was Now You See Me because heists plus magic. So the story goes that four magicians are lured to an apartment building and given detailed instructions which we aren’t privy to. They go on to be become the four horsemen and starting Las Vegas make their way across the country doing elaborate illusions and stealing money which they never keep for themselves. Of course the FBI gets involved and things to dicey.

I love a ridiculously elaborate revenge plot which is what this movie is all about. And I appreciated being able to see all the connections and misdirection by the end of the film. But the execution suffers from lame scripting and a throwaway love story.

It also totally needed more magic. Not big bombastic magic, just lower-level slight of hand and other little touches. One of my favorite moments, which is in the trailer, is when Jesse Eisenberg’s character switches a pair of hand cuffs from being around his wrists to being on the police detective. I wanted more of that! And if it had that I probably would have forgiven most anything else because the cast was great.

My work brings me into contact with a lot of magazines some of which go to people who no longer work for the company. Flipping through these books for no one lets me discover some interesting stuff. So on occasion I notice these odd little Marvel Comics that come in the mail that are actually just pamphlet ads with superheros. They are like the grownup versions of those old Marvel Hostess ads. If anyone actually remembers old Ongoing Investigations I talked about one with the Fantastic Four awhile back. This time I noticed one using Captain America.

Sadly this one is just your standard 2-D comic and not a stereoscopy masterpiece like the last one I reviewed. There was not even a page with some lenticular printing that made it look like Captain American was throwing his shield. But they do have the First Avenger hawking Kiehl’s skin cream products. Well will just have to make due with that

Note to self: Pitch Marvel a comic where they have Deadpool selling Taco Bell chimichangas and all the pages have lenticular printing of him breaking the 4th wall. BRILLIANT!

Without a doubt of all the things you could comment on about this comic the best is that it retcons in Kiehl’s skin cream products to being an important factor in Steve Rogers’ origin story. In the history of strange recons being based on petty grudges and poor attempts to correct bad editorial decisions this one very well may take the cake. Sadly this will not be canonically referenced anywhere else. If it was it could be retconned even further that it was actually Revlon products that helped make the Super Soldier serum.

Note to self: Pitch Marvel a comic where Wolverine’s origin story now is integrated with a tie in with Gillette razors and/or Ginsu knives being a part of the Weapon X program. DOUBLE BRILLIANT!

The plot is a silly as you would expect from a story based around Word War II solider frozen in time thawed so he can save historical stores from snake men. It seems that Kiehl’s flagship store in New York contains super chemicals that Cobra (this guy not this one) wants to help him TAKE OVER THE WORLD! But that is explained in a manner in which I half expect Nick Fury go, “Cobra could use them for evil … somehow.”

Note to self: Pitch Marvel a comic where Tony Stark has to switch to a Mac to prevent Microsoft from taking over the world with Windows 9. NINE TIMES AS BRILLIANT!

Steve Rogers eventually confronts Cobra and in the process does irrevocable damage to the historic store he is supposed to save. He also find a secret basement vault filled with the super solider machinery. I would like to mention that is totally shady for supposedly on the up and up cosmetic company. But Cap eventually saves an antique bike and defeats the villain by letting him kick his ass enough to eventually create an opening when he is  tired from winning too much. And he saves some mysterious and possibly illegal drugs.

Note to self: Pitch Marvel an animated feature where the Punisher has to kill the head of an evil oil company and make ExxonMobil the good guys in a wonderfully ironic turn. EVILLY BRILLIANT!

Also if you thought comic book movies ate up too much time with constantly giving you the same well-known origin stories in their movies they burn even more time in a single pamphlet comic. They are the magical girl transformation scene of super hero comics. Repeated material you can use to pad your running time with little to no effort. Even Precure mixes it up from time to time.

Note to self: Pitch Marvel a comic cross over even that pairs up the Pretty Cure All Stars with the X-men. SECRET WARS BRILLIANT!

I know that the Captain America uniform looks goofy in the Avengers movie. But for some reason when they are trying to make his uniform in the comic look like it does in the movie it comes out like the “Captain America from the Avengers®™” Holloween costume. That is not the sort of toyetic synergy you want.

Note to self: Pitch Marvel a toyline of figures based on the infamous Roger Coreman Fantastic Four movie for comic book hipsters. CRAZY BRILLIANT!

So yeah. That was the Captain America comic. So of course I can’t wait for the next silly and not very well disguised Trojan Horse ad. But I think that is the premise they work on all in all. If you can’t be a good you might as well be memorable.

Advertisements

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.