Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Speed Death and Quick Violence

Violence or Death

Call of Duty: Black Ops developer, Treyarch, recently went on record that because of their current technology in regards to faces and the animation of their characters' faces, they had to tone down specific contextual kills in the game because they felt they had gone too far. Gamers responses were somewhat mindblowing and ignorant of the creative process. Part of that process is discovering the lines you won't cross when telling your fictions -- or creating your games, whathaveyou -- but gamers tend to ignore such things and wanted the aforementioned violence kept in the game, claimed it was both censorship and a hype-generator to create even more hype for an already over-hyped franchise, and flat out asked, "Did they not play God of War III?"

If a creator thinks of something, creates that something, and puts it into whatever fiction they're working on at the moment, and find themselves feeling uncomfortable doing so, it isn't up to the fanboy masses to include it into the final work, it's the decision of the people responsible. If it exists in another game, or there's an even more graphic version of the subject in another game, doesn't remove the discomfort of the creator(s) nor allow them to cross that line.

The more I read and interact with gamers on the Internet, the more I'm finding that there's a lot of things about creating a form of entertainment that they just don't understand.

A sidebar to this subject is the comparison of violence that's being illustrated in a realistic and plausible manner (one that takes place in a fictional world that's intended to represent our own) and that of fantasy. Going back to the two games involved, Treyarch removed a contextual kill that involved the snapping of another's neck at your bare hands. In God of War III, you do something similar, but it's very brutal and has a lot of graphic gore involved. The two don't compare. Why? It's context. The context of Call of Duty has always been an attempt to accurately portray the events of real world wars in a virtual setting. It's supposed to be realistic and in that context, some of the things in those games can be quite disturbing. A good case in point is a certain scene in Modern Warfare 2 that involves a contextual kill that 'caused me to set the controller down a few moments before I could continue. It actually disturbed me quite a bit, and that isn't something that is easily done. In the context of God of War, you play the role of Kratos, a former Spartan captain that's become a God. It's fantasy, set in a mythological fantasy world, and the violence and gore accurately portrays that: it's fantastical to the point where it's much more cartoon-like than realistic.

Context changes the intended emotive response to violence and even gore.

Running Time

Another thing I'm seeing a lot of gamers get irritated with is the length of games. Single player aspects of games that are less than ten hours seem to get a lot of negative criticism aimed towards them by not only the game players, but also by the supposed critics of games.

When I was younger, a lot of the games I played were just that: games. Most of them were just point based simple exercises that required good hand-eye coordination and not much else. Games from the Atari 2600, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Super NES, among others. With the NES, games began to tell stories and whatnot, but even at that point a great deal of them could be defeated (if you were good enough) in under an hour.

Since then, the storyline aspect of video games have turned them into something different entirely. They're still games, but that's the most simplistic aspect of them. Now that the narrative is there, it's a complex storytelling medium that involves a lot of interaction between you (the player) and it (the fiction) and no game takes under an hour to get to the end, as far as I can tell. Some games have a five hour or a little more single player campaign, but that doesn't mean the game lacks quality nor does it mean it lacks replay value. A really good video game storyline is just the same as a really good movie or a really good book, and could very well warrant multiple play-throughs.

The most recent game I see getting flack for the lack of length is Vanquish, a third-person shooter that's accompanied by a pretty decent and epic science-fiction plot that could easily have substituted for either Transformers movie and had made a much better project. Without even playing the game outside of the demo, many gamers railed against the subjective quality of Vanquish simply because it had a less than ten hour single player campaign. Having played it myself, it's a pretty impressive single player campaign that proves that you don't need six billion plus hours of game time to make a good game. Just like all really long movies and really long books aren't the best things in the world, neither are a lot of really long games. Vanquish is one of many video game definitions of "short and sweet," and is accompanied by tremendous replay value, both in the single player campaign, and in the single player challenges the game offers you to be unlocked.

In my opinion, these same gamers need to read more short stories and learn the art of the short, powerful, and effective narrative.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Eleven Books.

My reading habits are like ordering an appetizer sampler at a restaurant: it's a little bit of everything and leaves you too full to enjoy a full fiction meal. I was reading ten books all at the same time, and now I'm reading eleven. I bounce from one book to another, depending on my mood, and it isn't hard for me to keep tabs on everything so I don't get lost. These are the books I'm reading right now:

Let Me In

Also known as Let the Right One In, this is a vampire novel by Sweedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. I heard a lot about the movie version of it, and then learned about the American production that changed the title, so I decided to go after the book before I saw either movie. I'm only eighteen pages into it, but so far so good. I like reading fiction from other countries because of the culture differences and whatnot. It makes books more interesting. I'm just learning about the main character now, so none of the gooey vampire goodness has happened yet, but the book is looking to be decently pleasing so far.

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

This book is fascinating. It's about the discovery of the Ebola virus in Africa and was the basis for the film Outbreak from several years back, although I think that movie had a fictional, less terrifying virus going around. I'm not that far into it either and haven't touched it in a very long time, but I'm looking to get back into it as soon as everything else allows.


Yeah, that book. I can't lash out against something that I have no knowledge of, and while I have seen the filmed version, I wanted to see what Stephanie Meyer's fiction was really like. The book is really hard to stomach though, and I'm only eight pages into it. I'm finding myself agreeing with Stephen King, though. Meyer really can't write all that well.

Chariots of the Gods

I've been wanting to read this book forever. I like the strange idea of the gods of antiquity having been aliens from other planets. I'm not saying I agree with it, believe it, or think that its true, but it's fascinating subject matter. This along with books like Fingerprints of the Gods and Forbidden Archeology (which I'm still looking for) capture my imagination pretty well. I first heard about Chariots in John Carpenter's The Thing, which is odd because I had seen multiple television programs dealing with similar subject matter before I had seen that particular movie. The book is fascinating and it poses a lot of questions that religions simply cannot answer.

The Devil You Know

I'm a fan of Mike Carey. I read his work on DC/Vertigo's Lucifer and Hellblazer for a while, and read most of his run on the relaunch of DC/WildStorm's WetWorks. When I found out he had written a novel, I started looking -- and by looking I mean I physically go to bookstores and look for them, and use the online stores as a last resort. This turned out to be the first book in a series of books, so I grabbed the first two. The series revolves around Felix Castor who is sort of a freelance exorcist, but I've not got to that part, yet. I'm thirty pages into it, and all Felix has done was terrify a bunch of children at a birthday party. It was pretty funny. I hope I enjoy these books enough to continue the series.

When Satan Wore A Cross

A true crime book about a 1980 murder of a seventy-one year old nun. Fifty-one pages into it, and it's pretty decently handled. I normally don't like true crime or real life stories.

The Dead That Walk: Flesh-Eating Stories

Zombies are everywhere. If you go to a book store and they have a horror section, you're going to find an abundance of two things: vampires and zombies. Unfortunately, most of the vampire stories are serial books that try to romanticize the creatures even further than Bram Stoker did with Dracula to the point where they're no longer horror novels. The zombies also suffer from an abundance of bad ideas and bad writing in that most of the short story collections are filled with stories that aren't good and the novels are just as bad. So if you're going to get a zombie short story collection, you'd want one with the best of the best, right?

Well, this is THAT collection. This book has stories by Richard and Richard Christian Matheson (together, which is fitting 'cause without Richard Matheson, we'd have no zombies), Yvonne Navarro, Joe Hill (the son of Stephen King), David J. Schow, Nancy Holder, H.P. Lovecraft (posthumously of course), Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, Kim Newman and Stephen King.

So far I've read Where There's a Will by Richard and Richard Christian Matheson, which is really different from anything zombie related that I've read. For the Good of All by Yvonne Navarro, which I really don't remember reading. I need to read it again, I think. The Things he Said by Michael Marshall Smith, which I also don't remember reading. A few of the stories I've already read in other collections, like Haeckle's Tale by Clive Barker and the Kim Newman story, but I'll delightfully re-read them again.

Wicked City: Black Guard

Hideyuki Kikuchi's awkward stories about humans and demons and those whose job it is to keep the balance between the two realms. I saw this as an anime years ago before I ever knew it was a novel (the same thing happened to me with his other series of novels, Vampire Hunter D). I also learned that Wicked City and Demon City: Shinjuku share the same universe. I like the book, even with the awkward language barrier -- Kikuchi is a Japanese novelist, and the books are translated to English and I think a lot is lost in translation. It plays out a lot like the anime.

The Mammoth Book of Wolf Men

One good thing about the Twilight series is that werewolves and lycanthropy have come back into popular culture in a nice way. Even the much more interesting and well plotted Underworld franchise of films didn't generate a lot of interest in lycanthropy the way Stephanie Meyer's books have -- though a lot of that new interest is misguided. I read a "review" not too long ago of The Wolf Man, the new one with Benicio del Toro, from a Twilight fan and all she did was rant and rave about how ugly and disgusting the werewolf was and how they "ripped off" Stephanie Meyer's ideas ('cause, y'know, lycanthropy hasn't been one of the myths attributed to every culture around the world since the beginning of mankind; the word lycanthropy comes from Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, who attempted to serve human flesh to Zues when he came for a visit) and shows just how uneducated we are as a culture here in America. Anyone should be able to tell you that The Wolf Man was a remake of a film of the same name from 1941. And if you don't, you shouldn't be let out of the basement.

This book is full of werewolf stories from all over the place, both old and new, and it is awesome. None of them quite capture my imagination the way The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, and Dog Soldiers have, but some came pretty close. Twilight at the Towers by Clive Barker is my favorite so far (492 pages into it) and the idea behind it would make a terrific horror flick. Governments using lycanthropes as spies during the Cold War. The other one I really like so far is Boobs by Suzy McKee Charnas, a coming of age story where not only does the main character's breasts develop earlier than the rest of her classmates (and larger) but she also gets the added feature of becoming a wolf on certain nights. My only problem with that story, and several other werewolf stories or stories with werewolves in them (like Twilight) is the quadrapedal take on them. Werewolves should always be bipedal in my opinion, because then they're not wolf-men, they're just people who turn into wolves. There's a difference. One interesting thing I've learned either from this book or while reading it from someplace else is that the full moon, the lunar cycle, all of that was added to werewolf/lycanthrope mythology by Hollywood, as was silver.

Dead Until Dark

Another book I'm not that far into, but this one has a decent explanation as to why. Dead Until Dark is the first of the Sookie Stackhouse series of books by Charlaine Harris, and is the basis of the television show, True Blood. I like the show a lot and was curious enough to buy my sister the series for Christmas last year, and she got me them for my birthday this year. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the producers of the show changed very little at the opening chapters, the book reads just like the show plays out. I'm not that far into it because I'm trying to write my own vampire fiction and decided that it was best to not read anyone elses, just in case stuff leaks through. That went south when I started reading Let Me In though. So maybe I'll pick it up again soon and blow through it quickly.

He Is Legend

The eleventh book on the list I just started reading last night, and I'm doing it differently than the others. The title, He Is Legend, is a play on the title of I Am Legend as it's a tribute, "an anthology celebrating Richard Matheson," which is right up my alley. Someone suggested I Am Legend to me about fifteen years ago or so, and I read that book really fast and ultimately fell in love with it, and the overall work of Richard Matheson. This book is a collection of short stories by authors that were influenced by Matheson's tales in their own careers and the stories they've provided for the anthology are sequels, prequels or are inspired by specific works from Matheson. I'm currently only reading the stories that are inspired by, prequels and sequels to the stories I've read by Matheson. Beginning with I Am Legend, Too by Mick Garris. Mick Garris will always be a favorite of mine but not because of his work. I've read very little of his fiction, but I've seen a few of his films, but he'll be a favorite of mine because of the television program he put together for ShowTime for two seasons called Masters of Horror. I Am Legend, Too, which I just barely started, is a prequel to I Am Legend and deals with the character Ben Cortman. The other stories I'll be reading in this book (so far) are Everything of Beauty Taken From You in This Life Remains Forever by Gary A. Braunbeck, which is a sequel to Matheson's Button, Button (which was the bases for the movie The Box with Cameron Diaz; Quarry by Joe R. Lansdale, which is a sequel to Prey; and Return to Hell House by Nancy A. Collins, a prequel to Hell House. The others will wait until I've read the corresponding stories by Richard Matheson himself.

And that's what I'm reading right now. I think there are probably more that I've started and forgotten where I was in the book, lost my place, or simply forgot that I was reading it at all. Vile Things: Extreme Deviations of Horror I've read bits and pieces of, I'm pretty sure I started Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Cemetery Dance and Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain, and who knows what else.

I should really start keeping better track.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bits and Pieces 6.


The demo for Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage went live on the PSN yesterday. It's what you'd expect from a Musou/Dynasty Warriors game, and that suits me just fine. It plays a little bit different and caters more to the Fist of the North Star world. It also has a lot more gore than any of the Musou games I've played before it, but doesn't quite live up to the comics or animated projects that have been based on Fist of the North Star. Still, it's a lot of fun so far, just from what the demo has to offer. You're given access to Legend Mode, which allows you to play through the story of Fist of the North Star -- which should be pretty long considering A) it's a Dynasty Warriors game and those are always pretty long and B) Fist of the North Star spans twenty-seven volumes long. You can pick two characters in the demo, Kenshiro (the main protagonist of the series) and Rei (an opponent of Ken's that eventually becomes an ally), and are treated to two different scenarios. In Kenshiro's it's a one on one battle with his brother, Jagi, who cheats and has shotguns and the like to try to kill you. Ken does his thing pretty accurately in the game, right down to the rapid fire punches and the Bruce Lee inspired warcries. Rei's demo is more of what you'd expect from a Dynasty Warriors game, which includes you running from one area to another and beating up a lot of badguys. The Fang Clan being the badguys in this scenario, a bunch of post-apocalyptic thugs that dress up in wolf-skins with accompanying claw-like weapons. I had a lot of fun with both scenarios, and I'm sold on the game.

The only huge drawback for me is that I wish there was a lot more detail in the gore. Heh.


After playing the demo not too long ago, I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to get this game. I liked the demo a lot, actually. It was fast paced and played much more like a Japanese game than an American one. A lot of comparisons have been made between this and Gears of War, but I didn't see it. This is a Japanese product, through and through, and it plays much more like an anime or manga rather than a buddy action film, or whatever it is that Gears tried to be. I've been sold on it, though. Because of this review right here. Ben Dutka over at PSX Extreme is the only reviewer I really read 'cause he does a good job writing them. I think I'll like Vanquish a lot, so I'm gonna get it.

Beginning Monday

I will have a blog publishing schedule. It goes like this:

Monday = Books
Tuesday = Games
Wednesday = Comics
Thursday = Games II! The Revenge!
Friday = A piece of fiction
Saturday = Movies
Sunday = Bits and Pieces.

It was going to begin last night, but my brain said no. So it begins next Monday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bits and Pieces 5.

Leading Platform:

More and more development teams are using the PlayStation 3 console as the lead platform to develop their multiplatform games. And it's beginning to show in a major way. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow's 360 version apparently has framerate issues, clipping and tearing from what I've read, not to mention that the game is on two DVDs, forcing players to constantly swap the discs in and out of the console whenever they want to visit previous stages again. Vanquish is another game that was deved on the PS3 first, and it looks absolutely stunning on the PlayStation 3. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is another game where the visuals alone have benefited greatly from being deved on the PS3 first. The details are much more beautiful to look at than the previous game and it really stands out as something to be experienced. Which is saying a lot since I was quite fond of the first game.

More and more dev teams are taking the cues established from first and second party developers that make the exclusive PS3 games and applying those cues to their multiplat games. A lot of the environments in Castlevania have that same radiance about them that appeared in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.


Dimension Films/The Weinstein Company will do anything and everything to shit all over the Hellraiser franchise and mythology just to be able to keep the rights to making the films. They did it with the last round of films, Deader and Hellworld, and they're doing it again with Revelations -- which doesn't even have Doug Bradley in it as the Lead Cenobite. This keeps them the rights to the film so they can continue to develop a remake of the original picture, which apparently has a new direction: they want to tween it up.

Yeah, you read that right. They want to take a concept of extreme sado-masochism with flayed flesh, nails in the head, swollen heads with baboon smiles, and skinned folks walking around and tween it up to appeal to the new teenage audience that devours things like Twilight and the like.

I can see it now. A young girl that feels all alone in this bleak and terrible world plays with a random Rubik's cube and unleashes a priest from hell that is HAWT and glitters in the sunlight.

Certainly brings a different definition to the phrase, "No tears, child. It's a waste of good suffering."



The Force Unleashed II demo is pretty awesome. It lacks the newness and HOLY SHIT factor of the original's demo, but it looks much prettier and controls a lot better. And that's coming from someone who didn't have an issue with the controls in the original game.

Sonic 4 is the same Sonic the Hedgehog I remember from the Sega Genesis days. Just polygonal now instead of handdrawn sprites.

Dead Space: Ignition is a weird little creature I had to put down.

Upcoming Stuff

There will be more content to read soon. Write ups for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, RED, and some other stuff here and there. Maybe some books, too, as I'm currently working on ten different books simultaneously. A few of them are short story collections, so maybe I'll break those down and go story by story. My write ups are not reviews, they'll be me writing about what I did and did not enjoy about the material, what I took from it, and how I thought it could be improved -- if it can be improved. A written version of how I talk about this crap to people out in the real world. So to speak.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Introduction: Who I Am and What I Do.

I figured that before I continue leading people through this the path of my brain, I should introduce myself.

My name is Dameyon and everything I do is centered around writing stories.

When I was a wee Dameyon back in the gradeschool days, where fuckheads and asslicks alike cared more to mock the Dameyon than ever to have listened to him or the almighty importance of his words (you can smell the entertainment factor being thrown at you at seven in the morning, can't you not?), I told stories through finger pants, mispelled words, and oddshaped dinosaurs. They often had E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial from the movie of the same name, over for dinner. It was good times. I found it hard, even at five years old, to drag myself out of bed to go learn stuff I didn't care two licks about, and miss what I had deemed of the utmost importance: stories. How dare school get in the way of me learning more about the fictional world of the Autobots and Decepticons? Or the importance of the War on Terror as told twenty-something years ago through the cartoon battles of G.I. Joe and Cobra? Funny that that little cartoon had a more concrete understanding of a term not to be coined for another twenty years, no? G.I. Joe, the unit, was constantly engaged in actual warfare around the world with VISIBLE terrorists in Cobra. If that's not a literal War on Terror, then maybe you should put something really clever here instead!

As I grew older, I started reading comic books and such but not much in the ways of anything prose fiction. I watched a lot of cartoons, watched a lot of movies (with Aliens, Jaws, Predator, and Friday the 13th being the top ones), and I read a lot of comic books and found myself completely absorbed in the fictions that I was being sold. I loved them, and unlike a lot of other people who talk about escapism and all that shit when they discuss they're youths, I didn't. I wasn't escaping anything, 'cause reality, in all of it's punch you in the face for whatever reason harshness, was right out the front door and I had plenty of outside time as a kid. I wasn't escaping FROM reality, but learning about fictional realities. I was the oddball that wondered what the history and culture and other random real world attributes could and would be applied to a universe where giant robots transformed into whatever vehicle was cool at the time. And I still do that kinda shit.

But, going back, as I grew older I started to tell more and more stories, but I wasn't writing them. Not in the most technical or literal sense of the word at all, but I was telling stories to myself through my action figures. I played with my Joes religiously, and they weren't the Joes that I bought them as any longer. At first, they were epic martial arts battles between a lot of hokey looking characters. I grew up on a lot of shit, and one of those turds was martial arts movies. Ninja movies, Bruce Lee movies, all that kinda stuff, so that got sucked into the stories I used to tell myself. The more and more I read comics the more it diverted to superhero stories... with brutal ninjas in them somewhere. It wasn't until my fourteenth year that I decided that I ultimately wanted to write for the rest of my life and I wanted to make it my ultimate career goal. One I'm still trying to work on, but I don't know if it's ever going to come to fruition.
At fourteen I started writing in the most literal sense of the word. Putting words to paper and forming something that made sense -- to me, at least. I wrote a retarded "crossover" story that used my favorite characters from every comic I had ever read. I wrote some poems and short pieces of fiction that weren't ever really liked by the teachers that I had to write them for. That's when I learned, to be honest, that school didn't teach me what I needed to know about the thing I loved the most. Every class I took on writing, creative writing and English alike, didn't teach me what I NEEDED. I stopped participating at that moment, and looked to different teachers to find my way into the literary world.

My first teacher was/is a man named Clive Barker. Yes, I had read books before I found his literary works. Books by Michael Crichton, a few by Stephen King, and some other stuff here and there -- never the classics, though I'm supposed to have by now, right? -- but it wasn't until sometime in 1996 or 1997 that I discovered that Clive Barker was an author as well as a filmmaker. Which is a lot of years late to be discovering this, to be honest. Clive Barker hit the literary scene in the 1980s, and here I am almost twenty years later finding his books. I can't recall how I found out he was an author, but I think it had something to do with The Lord of Illusions, a film he made based on a short story of his called The Last Illusion. The first book I read from Barker was fittingly enough a collection of the first three books he had written. A collection of short stories called The Books of Blood, which when originally printed were done in three (then six more were added) separate volumes. I had the first three volumes collected in one book, and I sat on a plane and devoured all of them. Clive taught me the passion and the humor of my selected "genre" and taught me how to pace things at an appropriate level, and to not be afraid of what others may or may not think of what you write. Though that's a problem I'm still having to this day. As a side note to my first teacher that saddens me, I still haven't read everything Barker has written. There's a small collection of his novels sitting on my shelf that remain unread to this day.

My second teacher (or teachers rather) came through comics. It was shortly after the Books of Blood -- when I literally started reading and paying attention to what I was reading on a whole new level -- that I started to pay attention to specific writers in the comic book field. Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and a bunch of others really made an impression on me very similarly to the impression Barker had left. But instead of teaching me how to write, these authors challenged me to write. Being unable to draw at all, they challenged me to take the visual things I was seeing in my head, and put them to words. And while it's an idea that I'm still wrestling with to this day, I'm much more comfortable with it now than I have ever been.

My third (and possibly final) teacher is Richard Matheson. Author of I AM LEGEND, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, and many, many other stories that I've adored since reading them. I read a lot from a whole great deal of authors and I learn something from each and every one of them, but Matheson (along with Barker, and a pretty long list of comic book writers) are the ones that taught me the craft as opposed to having had learned anything from English teachers, or creative writing teachers along the way.

Why am I this way? I don't really know how to answer that question. Writing (along with reading) brings you closer to yourself more than any other act, I'm convinvced. You're alone, for one, and it's pure thought being transmitted to paper, or vice versa. When you're writing, all of yourself comes out in your work, whether you want it to or not. When you're reading, the authors play with your mind through words. They describe things so that you visualise them in your head. They present situations that challenge you to the very core of your being (or your beliefs) if it's good material, or they entertain you in ways you couldn't imagine yourself. And it's all across the board through every medium, be it poetry, prose, comic stories, film, video games or whatever else is out there. And, even though I have my negative thoughts about film and the like, I enjoy all of them because of those reasons, and possibly a great deal more that I am forgetting. Me, being who I am -- I like to say that I'm still eight years old -- I can go into almost anything new with a childlike wonder and be excited about the new stories, or the possibilities within those stories, the same way a child is seeing the same cartoon over and over and over again. It's only when I let the adult out of the bag sitting in the back of my brain that I analyze what I've seen as a writer and formulate an opinion based on the story telling techniques the creators have used.

And on those days when the writing doesn't work or when I avoid it by doing everything but writing... there's always a part of me that just wants to go back to telling myself stories by playing with action figures.

All New, All Different, All Dameyon.

After a little bit of thinking and evaluating, I decided to cancel the fighting game only blog, move everything to a different place, and do an ALL me blog. A blog about everything that makes me... well, ME.

This one's gonna be crammed full of stuff from all over the place. Movies, Comics, video games, FIGHTING GAMES -- most definitely -- television programs, books, art, random stuff, bits of fiction here and there... it's just gonna be an all me blog.

So, yeah.

MadPowerBomber # 001


Jimmy and Jerry James considered themselves to be the best criminals in all of Century City. Their approach was flawless, the execution seamless, and the getaway perfected. This was their calling in life: to be the greatest convenient store robbers to have ever graced Century City and beyond. They had even taken their gang's name, and their own pseudonyms, after the world famous James Gang. At least in part.

The James Gang would arrive on the scene no later than two in the morning, but never before twelve-fifteen, run into the convenience store, brandish their weapons (Jimmy preferred a fully automatic G18, while Jerry leaned towards the handcannon with his Desert Eagle), frighten the people inside, empty the register, and then make their getaway. They wore old west styled clothing complete with boots, spurs, and cowboy hats, and hid their faces and identities with the fake names and handkerchiefs. The getaway was almost always made on foot as they dashed and darted through the City's intricate vascular system of alleyways, dead ends, and less-traveled streets.

Tonight was no different. The act had gone award winningly spectacular, and their getaway was in the middle of its progression when the lighting-fast flash of blue, red and gold stopped them dead in their tracks.

"What the hell was that?" Jimmy asked.

"I don't know," Jerry replied. "We should keep moving."

They took a few steps towards an open mouth of one alley that led into another, their boots splashing in the fresh puddles that had pooled up from the rain earlier in the evening. Jerry didn't know what it was that had hit Jimmy, but life had become a prisoner of time as it slowed down to almost nothing. He saw the flash of colors in a great speed then, as everything went into a slow-motion mockery of real life, he saw his partner (his brother) swept off of his feet, land on the back of his neck, and toppled over himself.

As he drew his pistol and turned to face whatever it was that had taken his brother and turned him into a broken heap of human mess he was met with a vicious kick to the stomach. All the wind he had inside his lungs went from them and he gasp as he doubled over and clutched at his abdomen. He felt another set of arms, muscular, strong arms, wrap around his midsection over his own before he felt the ground disappear from his feet. He was in the air before he knew it, and back on the ground even quicker. In slow motion, once again, he felt each of the individual vertebrae in his back separate from one another in a sickening series of cracks as he was slammed down onto the ground, flat on his back. He coughed, wished for air and for the pain to go away and watched as the costumed individual shook a small can up and down, bent over the limp frame of his brother and depressed a button. The sound of fwooshing air came from it and the acrid smell of paint filled his nose. He then watched, unable to move, unable to do anything, as the costumed individual who had destroyed the careers of the James Gang, grab their award winning loot and disappear back into the night where it had come.

Bits and Pieces 4.

Yun and Yang have been confirmed as playable characters for Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. Let's hope they come to the PS3 version of the game via DLC.

We also got a nice trailer for all the new DLC costumes for Super Street Fighter IV:

You might wanna pause it to get a good look at them, 'cause they all go by really fast. Or just visit Fighter's Generation as F.Yagami has them all collected in a nice little packaged deal gallery right here. Some of them are so awesome you don't even know how awesome they are, they're so awesome. Fighter's Generation is still the single best site on the 'net for anything to do with fighting games. Yep.

Tron Bonne, X-23, Spider-Man and Albert Wesker have joined the cast of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It looks like that rumored leaked list of the cast is slowly becoming true, but I'll believe it once they announce the Fantastic Four -- which the game producer explicitly said wasn't going to be in the game. It also looks that Capcom is sticking with their alternate colors even with the 3D graphics engine. That was passable when they were using 2D sprites, but it's starting to look really goofy nowadays, and I'd much rather see some of the characters alternate costumes from Marvel's past instead. Here's the new trailer for MvC3 from TGS2010:

And here's an even better one from earlier this month:

And finally, today Namco-Bandai announced Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for a 2011 Summer release. Which is most likely just an arcade release in Japan, so we'll be waiting for a while on a PS3/X360 release:

I hope they optimized the graphics for the separate consoles this time. As much as I love Tekken 6, there's a little fuzziness around the edges on the PS3 version that I'd like to see go away. But we'll see!

SF20: The Art of Street Fighter.

Having learned to appreciate art at a very young age thanks to animated television programs and comic books, things like this are a dream come true. SF20: The Art of Street Fighter covers the twenty-year life span of Capcom's Street Fighter video game series up to the date of publication, three years ago in Japan, last year in the United States through UDON, the publishers behind the Street Fighter comic.

SF20 is a massive tome of about three-hundred-twenty pages, all filled to the brim of all sorts of artistic goodies from the main guys responsible for the art behind the Street Fighter franchise. The book is very different from Eternal Challenge as it is laid out by the individual artists rather than grouping them all together.

The book begins with a hectic and violent illustration for the cover featuring Ryu being punched in the face while simultaneously recovering and countering. It doesn't credit the cover artist, but from what I can tell this is an AKIMAN illustrating.

The first artist to be spotlighted in the book is AKIMAN, the pen name for Akira Yasuda who has provided work for a number of animated television shows and video games in Japan. His section opens with an exclusive rendition of Chun-Li that is both amazing and beautiful. It's a simple headshot of Chun-Li eating an apple spread out over two pages, but it's a fantastic piece of work. His section continues with another two page illustration of Ryu from the Street Fighter Saga Kakutou Bushinden DVD package, and is followed up by another amazing illustration of Chun-Li from Street Fighter III. Then we get another headshot of Chun-Li that's an oil painting that's very pretty. AKIMAN is Chun-Li's creator and a lot of his illustrations in the his book, aside from the game art, is centered around her. Then there's the game art itself which is vast and varied, dating back to Street Fighter II, when AKIMAN first worked on the series. There's a group shot illustration, one of Ryu's back, and a series of portraits for Chun-Li, Guile, Sagat and Zangief from Street Fighter II. The Sagat illustration is the origin of Dan's character in the Street Fighter universe. The illustration shows Sagat holding a karate-based fighter, or one that would look as such, by the head after having apparently beaten him senseless. Several years later, a character looking identical appears in Street Fighter Alpha named Dan Hibiki and he has a hardon for getting revenge on Sagat for the murder of his father. Funny how things work like that. Several more group shots and Chun-Li illustrations, followed by a spectacular and very dark looking piece showing all the characters from Street Fighter II (including the four added in Super Turbo) doing things that have nothing to do with fighting. There's a light hearted side to Capcom's design team and it really shows in this book. In this illustration we're treated with much different representations of the fighters than we normally see. For instance Zangief is reading a book, Dhalsim is wearing a Hawaiian type shirt, E.Honda is in a business suit and tie, Ken is playing with a Sakura action figure, and Blanka is talking on a cellphone. A couple pages later we get a really nice series of Chun-Li illustrations that show her evolution over the years, including one of my favorites that you can see to the right. There's also a really wonderful, semi-erotic illustration AKIMAN did for Arcadia,a Japanese video game magazine, that was for SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos. It features Chun-Li and SNK's Mai Shiranui from King of Fighters and Fatal Fury fame in semi-fighting postures with their breasts pressed firmly against one another, and their lips almost touching. The image could be hinting that they're about to come to blows, or they're about to make out. It's a great image. Then we get to his famous character portraits from Street Fighter II and the selection screen art he provided for Street Fighter III, along with more illustrations of Chun-Li, a few of Ryu and Cammy, and some examples of his experimentation with digital art tools.

The second artist profiled is Kinu Nishimura, whose section opens with a two page spread illustration of Ken and Ryu that was used for a Street Fighter IV advertisement. It continues with two fantastic illustrations of Chun-Li, one of which (the one to the left) may be my favorite illustration of Chun-Li I've ever seen. His section continues with two group illustrations, one for Street Fighter II Turbo and another for Super Street Fighter II. Both illustrations are ones that I've seen before, but never knew the name of the artist. We get two character portraits from Street Fighter II, for Blanka and Guile, and some artwork for Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact. One was for a poster featuring Alex in the foreground looking up at the viewer, and Hugo in the back ground with his back towards us. The second is a fight between Ryu and Alex. Then we get some of Kinu's work for Street Fighter IV including a group shot of the new fighters introduced in the game, Abel, C.Viper, Rufus and El Fuerte. And a second featuring C. Viper which is also one my favorite illustrations from the book. You can see it on the right, there. Kinu does a very wonderful job at capturing the beauty of the female characters from the series. One of his next illustrations is a huge and elaborate piece that incorporates characters from all over Capcom's world of games from Street Fighter to Darkstalkers to Dino Crisis and Resident Evil in what seems to be all these characters barging in on Dan while he's eating. It's a very humorous image and I think I laughed out loud when I looked at it the first time. Some of the minor details are just wonderful to look at. Like the Zombie dog from Resident Evil waiting for Dan to drop some food for him to eat. In another funny group shot, we get an image of several Capcom characters watching Ryu (in his Street Fighter look) playing MegaMan at an arcade game of some sort. On the opposite page is an image of all the Street Fighter girls dressed up and having their picture taken with a Mickey Mouse-like character. Ibuki, Elena, Cammy, Chun-Li, Rose, Sakura and C.Viper are all in that image, and the only one wearing her fighting clothes is C.Viper. Sakura looks to be wearing the sundress that is going to be her upcoming downloadable costume for Super Street Fighter IV. Another group shot follows that featuring Sakura and Chun-Li from Street Fighter and Mai Shiranui and Yuri Sakazaki from King of Fighters. Shortly after that is another illustration that I adore featuring Chun-Li, Sakura and Cammy and all three girls look drastically different from one another. Chun-Li is stoic, Sakura much more child-like and maybe scared, and Cammy looking a bit more lusty than I've normally seen. Lots more group shots and a nice little illustration of Kyo Kusanagi from King of Fighters playing Sakura at a portable video game or another. A lot of Kinu's illustrations are rather humorous across the board. He's got several that dipict the entire cast of Super Street Fighter II in ridiculous situations. He provided a lot of illustrations that was turned into ingame art for Street Fighter III, including game endings and the like. The book provides a rough look at his art for those endings. He also did a large bulk of the character art for Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo and Capcom vs. SNK 2 -- he provided quite a bit of the Capcom art for the game, while another artist handled the SNK stuff. His section ends with a very expansive look at a character bible he provided for the Street Fighter II animated series, complete with notes that have been translated to English.

The next section is for an artist going by the pen name CRMK, but most people would know him as Bengus. His section opens with a nice and cut illustration of Sakura for Street Fighter Alpha 2. It's followed by a group shot for Super Street Fighter II that features multiple versions of each character in different colored outfits. The next illustration is one that has been burned into my memory for almost two decades, also for Super Street Fighter II, featuring Cammy and Chun-Li standing in Cammy's background stage for the game. I remember it because of the pose, the two girls standing back to back, and that for some reason Cammy's sticking her tongue out. Then we get a massive black and white illustration of Gouki for his first appearance in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Gouki is best known as Akuma in the States, but I still call him Gouki. 'Cause it makes sense. The next illstration is the main illustration for Street Fighter Alpha 3 featuring the new characters like Cammy, E.Honda, R.Mika fighting Blanka, Cody from Final Fight, Karin and Vega -- all of which were appearing in the Alpha series for the first time, with Mika and Karin appearing for the first time ever, and Cody appearing for the first time in a Street Fighter game. The next two pictures are both of Kyo Kusanagi and Ryu for Capcom vs. SNK. We even get an illustration he provided for a game called Canon Spike that revolved around Cammy and Charlie and involved roller blades, skateboards and a lot of guns. Lots and lots of Alpha illustrations throughout CRMK's section, all of which are favorites of mine. One illustration that isn't Alpha related has all the girls from Street Fighter in a POV picture from Ryu's POV with them standing over him as though he just got knocked out. It's a really pretty image and he captured each of the characters personalities with the limited space provided. Lots of illustrations of Sakura and a crazy amount of character art. CRMK provided character illustrations for Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, some retcon art for the original Street Fighter, all three Alpha games, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter EX 2, and one character for Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. What's really unfortunate is that none of the Marvel characters are represented here for the X-Men and Marvel related games. Just the Capcom guys.

Next we get Ikeno who begins with a pretty interesting illustration for Street Fighter IV featuring Ryu delivering a Shoryuken to Sagat's chin. Next we get the two different covers he provided for Eternal Challenge, the Japanese cover which was also used for the Street Fighter Collection on the PS2, and the North American edition. Of which, I don't have either, I have a special edition cover drawn by an artist later on in this book. A great deal of his art is game covers and character art. His section ends with a lot of design work for Street Fighter IV with notes.

Dai-Chan is up next who provides us with one of the more famous known images related to Street Fighter Alpha, to the left as the box art for the Japanese Dreamcast version of the game. He also did the illustration of Ryu being stared down by Gouki that appeared prominently during the game's release.

Edayan is the next and we get his awesome cover art for Street Fighter ALpha 3 that was on the PlayStation cover. Edayan provided a lot of art for the Alpha series and filled in the character slots left open by CRMK.

Then we have Shinkiro who gives us an illustration of Ken vs. Ryu. Shinkiro provided the art for Eternal Challenge cover that I had and is more known for his work on various SNK games, having just joined Capcom pretty recently. His work is usually known for his photorealism in his artwork, but has been slowly providing less and less photorealism in some of his Capcom works. We get several illustrations of Capcom vs. SNK here, some more cartoony illustrations for Capcom Fighting Evolution, and his anime inspired work for Tatsunoku vs. Capcom. We also get a handful of illustrations he did for UDON's Street Fighter comics, and his character work for Capcom vs. SNK and Capcom vs. SNK 2.

The final segment of the book is Other Illustrators that has Shoei, Sensei, Shima Maeda, Harumaru, Akiko Nishizawa, Hideki Ishikawa, Uji, Shinsuke Komaki, Ooishi, L. George, Sakura, UDON, Polygon Pictures, Tamio, Syukuo Murase, Falcoon, Nona, Takuji Kawana, Namco X Capcom Staff, Collaborative Illustrations and Capcom Design Staff. Lots of cool stuff in here including the game endings that UDON did for Capcom Fighting Evolution, the Street Fighter IV character art from Polygon Pictures, some Capcom vs. SNK illustrations by Falcoon including a very breasty one featuring Mai and Chun-Li, and some art by Takuji Kawano who works for Namco Bandai and has done most of his work for the Tekken series of games.

The overall package of the book is amazing. Lots of the pieces feature commentary by the artist, the book is tethered with string instead of bound by glue, so it's much less likely that it'll fall apart at the seams. The paper quality is extremely high and the art being reproduced here just glows of high quality printing. This is possibly the best Street Fighter art related book that's ever been published and definitely comes highly recommended from me. Some of these images I hadn't ever seen before, and others I've seen only online and don't look as good as they do in the book.

You can get SF20: The Art of Street Fighter here, here, and here, with being the cheapest.

Bits and Pieces 3.

Just some real quick stuff. First:


@Yoshi_OnoChin Iam saddened about new characters in SSFIV arcade. We have no arcades in Utah anymore. :( are they gonna be dlc?


We'll see what we can do about arcade ver.DLC for PS3/360. RT @MadPowerBomber: We have no arcades in Utah anymore. :( are they gonna be dlc

So, that's pretty cool, eh? Haha.

Second, we've apparently gotten an unconfirmed confirmation of Yun being in Super Street Fighter IV arcade edition. Ono posted a picture that had SSIV arcade in the background with Yun on screen -- made visible by his shirt and hat. I never saw the hat, but the shirt was a pretty dead giveaway.

There's a pretty cool interview with Harada and Ono about Street Fighter X Tekken and Tekken X Street Fighter over here.

Here's one of the coolest videos I've ever seen:

And here's some pics of some of the new costumes coming as DLC for Super SFIV:


Sakura in a sundress.


Cammy in a catsuit of some sort.


Ryu in a crazy new design.


Chun-Li in her Alpha attire.


Juri in a skin tight outfit.

Just some snips. More later when I'm not exhausted.

Avatar vs. Street Fighter.

It fits here, so I'm posting it here:

I recently got into watching Avatar: The Last Airbender because of the film. I liked the movie when I first saw it, but I went into it without any knowledge of the animated series at all. After seeing it, I was interested enough to watch the animated series from the beginning, and I can see now why everyone disliked the movie version. I went and saw it again last night, and I liked it a lot less than the first time because of everything they changed and took out from the animated series. Which turned out to be a lot more than just changing the races of the main characters -- which was pretty shoddy to begin with.

But during the second season, there's a female bounty hunter character introduced pretty early on. Her second appearance later on in that episode she's arm wrestling a bunch of thugs for money.

One of those thugs turned out to be Ryu from Street Fighter fame. I got a huge kick out of that. Sure, his hair was a little different as he was sporting more of a Guile-esque look, but Ryu was in the show nevertheless.

I absolutely love stuff like this and it reminded me of the second Deadpool series from Marvel Comics, the first ongoing series they attempted with the character. It was pencilled by Ed McGuiness and in that first issue several Street Fighter characters make a half-appearance, including Ryu.

I'll see if I can document more stuff like this as I go along.

Street Fighter: Eternal Challenge


Street Fighter: Eternal Challenge is the first of many art books centered around Street Fighter in Japan brought to the States by UDON. Published in 2005 to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Street Fighter, Eternal Challenge presents a very interesting and intricate look at all things Street Fighter.

It's broken down into four sections: Art Works, History, Editorial, and Extras. In Art Works, we're given six sections dedicated to the art centered around Street Fighter in all its incarnations. In Special Illustrations Gallery 01 we get to see a lot of varying artistic styles and representations of the Street Fighter characters. Everything from phone card art to book and website illustrations to secret art files all from designers like AKIMAN, Nishimura Kinu, Nishizawa Akiko, and a great deal of others. The illustrations themselves offer looks at the private lives of the Street Fighters, calm and serene moments (such as Sakura resting under an overpass), comedic representations (like Ryu in his underwear at a laundromat, probably washing his ever present gi), cover and test location art, novel pin-ups, and an all around mish mash of various illustrations.

In Main Illustration Gallery we get the arcade cabinet art and game box art from the various Street Fighter games released since 1987. The series begins with Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike then continues on with Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter II Champion Edition, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Collection, Street Fighter, and Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival.

The Character Illustration Gallery is just that. It details the characters that have appeared in every Street Fighter game up to Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike in all their various incarnations and various designers. Not that the looks of the characters have changed all that much from 1987 to 1999, but you'd be surprised how each artists renderings of the characters varies from one another. Looking at a Bengus illustration from Super Street Fighter II and then an Ikeno illustration from Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, the characters, while being the same, look vastly different from one another. This section takes up a good chunk of the book as most of the characters have two page spreads dedicated to themselves. From Ryu to M.Bison are all given the two page treatment. Beginning with the cast of characters introduced in Super Street Fighter II, the page count dwindles. Fei Long, Dee Jay, Cammy, T.Hawk and Akuma all have a single page dedicated to them, while the later characters from Alpha and Street Fighter II all have half pages. The last page in the gallery gives us some rather updated illustrations from Bengus for the characters from Street Fighter, the original game from 1987, five of which have never been seen in a Street Fighter game since.

The Special Illustration Gallery 02 gives us more random illustrations of the Street Fighter characters doing random things. There's an illustration of Sakura at a festival taking off an Akuma mask -- with a Megaman and Hsien-Ko mask behind her; there's an illustration of Chun-Li where she appears to be selling a drink of some sort, there's the Street Fighter Vacation, Street Fighter II Image Museum and Super School Fighter II X illustrations, a whole collection of drawings dedicated to the characters and their lives outside of fighting -- some of which tend to be rather hilarious -- and lots of character sketches.

The Setting Data & Rough Sketch Gallery shows us a lot of in-game art (win and loss screens, game endings and the like) in their rough sketch design process. There's also a lot of the stages in drawing form and more rough character designs than you can shake a stick at. In this section there is an interview with Shoei, Nishimura Kino and Ikeno from Capcom's Street Fighter design team.

The History section begins with All Work Introduction, a section entirely dedicated to the development process of each Street Fighter game, beginning with the first one in 1987, and ending with Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike from 1999. It continues with All Character Profile Introduction which details all of the characters involved in the fifteen year span of throwing fists and kicks at one another. Each character is spotlighted with a description, a brief detailing of their story, and their in-game history development (how they went from a to b). All Ending Introduction is dedicated to each of the characters game endings from all of the games in the series, offering more details to the characters personalities and histories; but staying away from the in-game canon of the Street Fighter plot. They don't tell you who actually won the second or third tournament, or anything of that nature.

The last few sections of the book are filled with interviews, pictures of statues and action figures based on the Street Fighter characters, controllers, t-shirts, posters, costumes, comic book covers, video game magazine covers, logos, gamebox art for the console versions of each games (some of which were rather ugly back in the day), and ending the book with an interview with the folks at UDON who bring us the Street Fighter comics.

All in all this is a really good book, and it was my go to book for everything related to Street Fighter art until very recently. The quality is pretty decent, and the art is very clear and vivid, though some of the illustrations were reduced in size to make room for all of them. The book is actually quite small and the interviews and history sections take up a lot of space. Both are quite interesting reads, but it's space that could be easily used for more art, of which there is plenty available. The book is out of print as far as I can tell, so I would probably avoid buying it unless you had to have it for your collection. As both on and Barns & are fetching pretty high prices on it.

If I were you, I would spend my money on the next book to get a write up from me. SF20: The Art of Street Fighter.

Hori Tekken 6 Arcade Stick


This is the limited edition arcade stick that comes in a bundle with Tekken 6 and a hardcover art book for Tekken 6 and the rest of the series. The stick is made by Hori and it uses the same buttons used for actual arcades and a rather sleek and responsive joystick. As you can see it also sports some rather nice artwork on the face of the controller featuring several members of Tekken 6's cast.

The stick is quite responsive and smooth to use. I actually prefer it to using a controller now when playing Tekken 6, but I'm having a hard time adjusting to the precise nature of Super Street Fighter IV after having used a controller more than an arcade stick with that game for a good fifteen years or so. The buttons are laid out real nice together, and it makes for easy button mapping to make the games closer to the arcades instead of the usual swaps that I make to accompany the lack of six face buttons on most controllers. Usually, for Street Fighter games, I put the weak kicks and punches on square and X, the fierce kicks and punches on circle and triangle, and then the medium ones on R1 and L1. It makes the game easier for me, but it also makes combos a bit more intricate. Here, I can lay the buttons out the way the're supposed to be and have immediate access to them. I'm still not sure how I want the Tekken 6 layout to be structured as I've grown used to having the shoulder buttons available for the awkward key combinations like right punch + left kick, but I'm finding that I don't need them all that much at all with all four attack buttons at my finger tips instead of a single thumb.

The stick has allowed me to access several combos that I've been having issues with in the Tekken series since the second and third games. Particularly with King as I couldn't ever get the timing right for one of his multi-throw starters. Here, it's so much easier because I don't have to rely on just my left thumb to key it in. It's a Shoryuken type movement, but it's much more precise than most of the other Shoryken types in Tekken (Kazuya and a few others also have this motion specific movement, which was irritating on the controller's directional pad) but here, with the stick, the timing is found easily. These moves are done as forward, down, down-forward + attack button, which for some reason I couldn't get with the directional pads across three PlayStation consoles, and two PSPs. With the stick, I can hit it much more frequently, and relaxed.

Out of the two games that I've tried with the stick so far (Tekken 6 and Super Street Fighter IV) I've found no complaints in the controller at all. Many with my inability to use it accurately having relied on a controller pad for so long, but none with the stick itself. The stick is amazing, and I'm actually quite shocked to learn that this stick falls into the lower end of the quality spectrum from various reviews that I've read elsewhere. The joystick, as I mentioned befoew, is sleek and very responsive when moving the characters, and the buttons are all placed in a nice location and are also very responsive. There's no lagging or input delay in the controller itself, which is very nice considering it's a base wireless controller and doesn't run off of bluetooth.

That's one of my only two gripes about the controller: that it's not bluetooth. And since it isn't bluetooth that leads to my second gripe: it runs off of two AA batteries, meaning it has an extra cost to it by having to replenish your battery supply whenever they die. I really wish that Sony would work more with third party hardware developers in getting their bluetooth wireless technology into their controllers. These arcade sticks would have a much better lifespan and range if they operated off of bluetooth and were rechargeable through a USB cable as Sony's DualShock 3 controllers are.

All that said, this is an awesome buy for a fighting game fan. Even one like me who has wrist and joint issues where arcade sticks have a tendency to cramp up my hands pretty bad. This is just how fighting games were meant to be played, and going back to a controller, even after just a few hours, proves to be more difficult than reacquainting myself with an arcade stick.

You can get the limited edition of Tekken 6 with the arcade stick and the artbook here, here, and here. The last link takes you to Best Buy, and online they only have the XBox 360 version available.

No Love for Street Fighter.

Ganked from Kotaku's post, 'cause I can: an interesting French artist you can follow here has done some pretty snazzy looking pics with the banner "NO LOVE FOR STREET FIGHTERS."

This one is my favorite of the bunch:

They look like they just had very awkward sex. The Blanka and Makoto one is funny, as is the Chun-Li and Balrog.

Give 'em a look!

Bits and Pieces 2

First up: Arcana Heart 3 is getting a PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 release, but I'm still unclear whether its a Stateside release or not. Not good if it isn't for 360 owners, but PS3 owners can import the game and play it just fine.

I'm really not familiar with Arcana Heart, so I had to do some digging around to find out what it is. It's an all female based fighting game series with a bunch of funkiness going around. More when I learn more, but it's made by Ark Works, the same folks responsible for Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, and it's all in 2D prettiness. I'm doubtful that I'll be importing it, but I'm thinking about it now.


Rumors going about as to what new characters are going to be added to the arcade version of Super Street Fighter IV when it hits some time soon. I've seen a possible fake picture of Alex from Street Fighter III, and Arcadia Magazine is hinting at Yun and Yangm, also from Street Fighter III. I've read elsewhere that there's a possible six characters being added to the already playable thirty from Super Street Fighter IV. We'll see, and possibly soon. My question is: are the characters going to be made available to the console version of the game via DLC? Considering arcades aren't all that popular in the States anymore and Street Fighter IV's arcade version didn't make too much of an impact here, I'm hoping so.

Bits and Pieces 1

There's going to be an arcade update to BlazBlue: Continuum Shift called BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II. It's a minor update featuring two new characters to the arcade version, Valkenhayn R. Hellsing and Makoto-Nanaya. Hellsing is going to be the next downloadable character for the console version, and Makoto already being available. Continuum Shift being the updated version of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, which is the one I have. I wasn't aware there was another out already. I'm slipping.

Two more characters were added to the Marvel vs. Capcom roster in Dormammu for the Marvel side, and Viewtiful Joe for the Capcom side. I don't quite get the Dormammu inclusion, but I suspect it'll be explained in the game. There are other flamey-headed characters from Marvel that are known to a larger audience, like Ghost Rider, than this guy, but I guess he'll work out just fine. So far the roster includes: Captain America, Deadpool, Dr. Doom, Dormammu, Hulk, Iron Man, Super-Skrull, Thor, and Wolverine from Marvel; and Amaterasu, Chris Redfield, Chun-Li, Dante, Felicia, Morrigan, Ryu, Trish, and Viewtiful Joe from Capcom.

Street Fighter X Tekken will probably be out sooner than the two years that Yoshinori Ono claimed it would be. Harada said that Street Fighter X Tekken will probably be out before the Apocalypse of the Mayan Calendar, and Tekken X Street Fighter will be out after. I should really post these videos and such, but I'm lazy, eating, and getting ready for more gaming right now, so there. We also got to see what Ryu might look like in Tekken X Street Fighter (which is centered around Tekken's visuals and gameplay methods) and it looked pretty nifty! A teaser image for the game shows not only Jin and Ryu, but also their darker aliases: Devil Jin and Satsui no Hadou ni Mezameta Ryu.

There might be some new characters for King of Fighters XIII, which is shaping up to be the KOF game that KOFXII should have been, complete with a boss character. Already in the line up are: Kyo, Iori, Ash Crimson, Terry and Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi, Ryo Sakazaki, Kim Kaphwan, Benimaru, Robert Garcia, Clark, Ralf, Athena, Duo Lon, Shen Woo, Leona Heidern, Raiden, Kensou, Chin, Elizabeth Blanctorch and Mature from the previous installment. Joining them are K', Takuma Sakazaki, Mai Shiranui, King, Yuri Sakazaki, Kula Diamond, Hwa Jai and Saiki, with Saiki being the endboss of the game. We also might get Chang, Malin, Momoko and Oswald as a more recent blog post over on SNK/Playmore's KOFXIII blog details the producer asking what those characters would look like with the KOFXIII design.

Yep. Lots of fighting games on the way.


What would a fighting game revival be without Mortal Kombat?

Mortal Kombat was like the more brutal, older cousin of the other fighting game franchises that all burst on the scene in the early 1990s, and the one that drew a lot more attention (a lot of it being negative). Boasting a simplistic fighting engine and digitized actors instead of hand-drawn sprites, Mortal Kombat appealed to the growing fans of the genre that liked things a little more realistic (at least when it came to most of their characters) and things a lot more gorey. The sheer idea of being able to finish off your opponent with a killing blow of some sort or another wasn’t only unique, it was fitting. How many martial arts films has there been where in a tournament like structure, there were killing blows delivered? Probably hundreds, but the two I’m thinking right off the top of my head seem to have influenced not only Mortal Kombat but almost every fighting game that was ever released: Enter the Dragon starring Bruce Lee, and Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. It just made sense.

Mortal Kombat has gone through its own battles as well. Not just within the game, but externally as well. After three strong efforts, especially on the arcade scene, there was a drastic shift in how video games were being made. Two-dimensional games were on the outs, and three-dimensional games were coming in. Suddenly, the two-dimensional fighters had to worry about a new source of competition and that competition kicked them in the ass something fierce. 3D graphics seemed to come out of nowhere and the direction of video game was heavily influenced by the home console market rather than the arcade market with the release of Sony’s PlayStation and Sega’s Saturn. Games like Resident Evil and Tomb Raider were pushing the games into different directions that previous consoles weren’t capable of, and fighting games were being driven in the same direction thanks to Sega’s Virtua Fighter and Namco’s TEKKEN. Mortal Kombat jumped into the transition with both feet and landed harshly with the fourth effort in the Mortal Kombat series and its updated follow up, Mortal Kombat Gold. The characters, their fighting styles, and even the fatalities didn’t transition to the three-dimensional playing field all that well.

Then the arcades dried up in the States. You’d be challenged if you were asked to find an arcade around here that wasn’t struggling to stay afloat and had enough new games coming in to keep costumers happy. Following the demise of the arcade scene we had a five year draught of anything and everything Mortal Kombat.

The fifth entry in the series, Deadly Alliance, was released to consoles only – a first in the lifespan of Mortal Kombat, not including the mishmash game that was Mortal Kombat Trilogy – and offered another attempt at making the transition from the two-dimensional playing field to a three-dimensional one. Deadly Alliance offered a lot in terms of playability and entertainment, but it, too, failed to capture the feel, vibe and atmosphere that had been already created by the original three games. What it did offer was a rather interesting storyline that meshed the frail plots of the fourth game with the somewhat decent plots of the first three. It was almost a revival of the franchise, but even as playing it I felt as though the game wasn’t finished; that this was a rushed effort on the part of Ed Boon and his team.

Deception was released two years later, and while it added a lot of polish on the Deadly Alliance engine, it still suffered from the same rushed feel that Deadly Alliance had. It wasn’t what it could have been, though it did offer an excellent attempt at a fighting game styled RPG that also worked as a tutorial for how to play the game. But it offered a lot of lackluster visuals at the same time. Gone were the interesting, yet gorey fatalities from the previous entries, replaced with very disappointing results (at least none of them were as laughable as Quan Chi’s neck-stretch fatality from Deadly Alliance, though). It seemed that the fans of creativity weren’t waving in the direction of the flames that lit the fire underneath Mortal Kombat’s designers.

Armageddon was the last effort of the last generation of consoles (Nintendo’s GameCube, Sony’s PlayStation 2, and Microsoft’s Xbox). It offered a somewhat decent storyline and a fun go-cart racing game inspired by Mario Cart, but it lacked in any sort of revision of the already established fighting engine that premiered in Deadly Alliance. It was once again cluttered with a lot of palate swapping motion capture, unfitting martial arts, and no depth to be offered in terms of the fighting engine, combo system, and recognition. The characters had the same special moves that they always had, but without any concrete grounding in a specific martial art, they could have been anyone at any time. That was one of my biggest complaints about the second set of games Boon and company had delivered, the console only games. A character might fight one way one game, and then his martial art was changed in the next game and nothing seemed concrete.

The last game could have been the death knell for Mortal Kombat: an attempt to cross over with another company that has only had a passing attempt in the fighting game genre similar to the crossover games that Capcom had done in the past. But while Marvel’s flamboyant characters seem to mesh rather well with Capcom’s characters, the DC characters seemed drastically out of place going toe-to-toe with the more brutal and homicidal characters of Mortal Kombat. Everything that Mortal Kombat was known for had taken a back seat simply to showcase a bunch of DC’s aging characters’ martial arts skill sets.

It wasn’t the death knell for Mortal Kombat, however. In 2008, Capcom broke an almost ten year length of silence in the fighting game genre by releasing Street Fighter IV to arcades in Japan (and some select ones in the States, if they could afford the cabinet). In 2009, Capcom released it on the home consoles, and the fighting game genre seemed to breath a new air of life into its decaying lungs that were being propped up by Namco and some efforts that most folks never looked at from SNK. The new air of life brought with it a second issue of Street Fighter IV in Super Street Fighter IV; brought with it the long awaited Tekken 6; brought with it a brand new King of Fighters XII, with an entirely new set of hand-drawn sprites, but lacked an involving single player experience; brought with it a new franchise called BlazBlue; and brought with it a slew of announcements for new games.

A new Mortal Kombat was one of those announcements. After the release of Mortal Kombat vs. DCU there were rumors going about that Ed Boon and company were already at work at a new installment for the series and that it would be taking Mortal Kombat back to its dark, gore-splattered roots. Then Midway fell apart and Mortal Kombat came under the ownership of Warner Bros., who also happens to own DC Comics. I know that I, personally, was scared that we’d more than likely see another crossover game between the heroes of the DC Universe and the fighters of Mortal Kombat than a proper Mortal Kombat game. But the rumors persisted.

A week before E3 2010 came about a video clip hit the web featuring the Mortal Kombat characters in a possible movie-like inspiration that seemed to be a reboot of the entire franchise. That heated up the buzz for Mortal Kombat going into E3 and while the video itself turned out to be nothing more than one filmmaker’s pitch to Warner Bros. for a potential film, the excitement it generated didn’t calm down once the newly announced NetherRealm Studios unveiled the newest installment of the Mortal Kombat franchise that was exactly on par to what Ed Boon had been stating it would be. It was dark, it was brutal, and it, too, seemed to be a reboot for the franchise.

In the few months since E3, lots of new information has been provided to us from NetherRealm in regards to their Mortal Kombat game. The first and foremost thing is that this game is not being rushed, unlike the previous installments. According to Ed Boon, Midway had rushed the Mortal Kombat games in and out of production, which is why they felt unfinished and ultimately unpolished. This game is not being handled that way, and Warner Bros. has given the team the time to make the game they’re satisfied with.

What do we know about the new Mortal Kombat game?

First, the studio listened to the fans and seemingly took another play out of Capcom’s playbook. Two-dimensional fighting games have yet to make the transition to a full three-dimensional playing field without there being a lot of wear and tear on the characters and the universe they operate in. The last four Mortal Kombat games and the Street Fighter EX series stand out as the most notable efforts. This new Mortal Kombat will boast three-dimensional graphics but, like its rival before it in Street Fighter IV, will operate on a two-dimensional playing field. This frees up the processors, as quoted by Hans Lo, to give us more detailed backgrounds and character designs; as well as providing us with a very amped up game play that’s been missing since Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. I’m not sure I agree with the detailed environments and character designs as several other fighting games that do operate in a three-dimensional playing field offer some of the more elaborately detailed stages and characters in fighting games, both of which come from Namco in Soul Calibur and Tekken. But he’s a game designer, and I’m just a game player, so he’s words trounce my beliefs. The amped up game play, however, can be seen in the few bits of game play footage that we’ve seen so far. This is a very fast fighting game, and it reminds me very much of a combination between Mortal Kombat II’s more free-flowing combat system matched with the insane speed of Mortal Kombat 3.

The button mapping is a bit different from the rest of the Mortal Kombat games. Instead of the traditional high-low punch/high-lo kick mapping that we got in the first three games, and then whatever it was that was used in the last four or five, NetherRealm Studios has borrowed a play out of Namco’s playbook and has given us four attack buttons, one for each limb a la Tekken. I saw borrow instead of “steal” or any other inappropriate terms because that’s what happens in the fighting game genre: studios borrow elements from other fighting games be it a block button, attack movements, or in game elements like hidden characters – an element that began with Mortal Kombat. It’s a simple effort of evolution through inspiration. After all, every fighting game has the forward/down/down-forward plus attack button movement of the Shoryuken.

They’ve also implemented a new super-meter of sorts that fills up when attacks are connected (probably by you and your opponent as is with most fighting games) that offers the chance for super-attacks (similar to Street Fighter IV’s EX moves), combo breakers which has been a staple of the MK series since Mortal Kombat 3 if I remember correctly, and a newly added “X-Ray” combat system that looks absolutely amazing. It actually reminds me of the opening promo real for UFC Unleashed, a program on Spike TV dedicated to displaying the more memorable fights from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In that promo real, however, when some of the punches and kicks connect on an opponent, it shows an X-Ray view of the fighter being kicked or punched and what it might look like on the inside. I thought that this feature might actually show up in one of THQ’s UFC-based games, but it looks like NetherRealm jumped at it first, and it seems more appropriate for a Mortal Kombat game. When put into effect, the camera zooms in and offers a break in the fast paced hectic nature of the fights and shows an internal view of what you’re doing to your opponent. The X-Ray view shows bones being broken or even shattered and internal organs collapsing or being punctured or rupturing and all that gore-driven goodness. This, and the subsequent fatalities to come, is one of the features I’m looking forward to seeing the most.

The gore itself is also making a huge comeback in this Mortal Kombat effort as you will see real time damage on the character’s bodies and faces (much more elaborately so than previous efforts) and blood will splatter onto you from your opponent and decorate the stages and darken over with time as the blood coagulates. This devotion to gruesome details is what originally got me to pay attention to Mortal Kombat and it’s almost a shame that it took them this long to really elaborate on it or pay attention to it; but it’s also ultimately satisfying.

The plot of the game – yes, I’m one of those fighting game players that pays attention to the plots of the games – is also rather interesting in a total reboot sort of way. Apparently, at some point in a yet-to-be-determined future Shao Kahn is seconds away from killing the Thunder God, Raiden. In retaliation, Raiden sends a brainmail message back in time to a somewhat younger version of himself (the same version that appears in the original Mortal Kombat game), thus changing the outcome of everything that happened through those first three games. Does Scorpion kill Sub-Zero? Does Liu Kang win the tournament of the first game? That weird comic book styled retcon opens up a lot of possibilities for the plot to trample through, and that almost has me just as excited as the game play and gore does. Boon has been quoted as saying he wants roughly twenty-six characters in the final edition of the game, with potentially more being developed post-release and offered as DLC in the future. So far the known characters are: Cyrax, Johnny Cage, Kitana, Kung Lao, Mileena, Nightwolf, Reptile, Scorpion, Sektor, and Sub-Zero. Raiden and Shao Kahn made appearances in the game’s announcement trailer, but there’s nothing here nor there about their inclusion in the final game. As expected, however, I’m sure there will be several hidden characters decorated throughout the game as is the usual for Mortal Kombat, as well as a monstrous boss and/or sub-boss character. Boon has already stated that this Mortal Kombat will have more unlockables than previous games, and will actually put the rest to shame. It will also have the Krypt, which has served as the base for the unlockable content since Deadly Alliance, and it will have an elaborate and sophisticated unlocking system.

And before I stop talking and just post the trailer from E3, I have to say one of the things they’ve talked about recently that I really like is that they’re leaving open hooks in the programming to further tweak the characters in their online mechanics to balance them out post-release without the need of downloading a patch here and there. This is what has been missing from the online fighting game scene since it was born. This insures that Mortal Kombat won’t have a Sagat-like character from Street Fighter IV who proved to be very powerful in online play, and Capcom couldn’t tweak him without releasing a whole new game (of course that whole new game was worth the purchase, but you get my point I hope).

Mortal Kombat HD Kollection.

Imagine if you will sliding a disc into your current console of choice and being taken back in time to the early 1990s. You're half expecting the digitized sprites of real actors to look dated and ugly, but instead you see eye-popping digitized sprites in high-definition there for you in all their brutal glory.

If what is telling us is to be believed, then it's almost inevitable.

Following the pattern of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix released a couple of years ago or so, it seems the folks at Warner Bros. are pushing their rather recent acquirement of the Mortal Kombat franchise in the direction that it needs. First, we're getting a real Mortal Kombat game that isn't being rushed out the gate by the folks at Midway, and second, a little pet project that puts three classic (and only really decent MK games out there) into the hands of fighting game fans everywhere.

Not to be outdone by rival company Capcom, Warner Bros. isn't settling with upscaling of pre-existing sprites or drawing over the same sprites with flashy new HD looks for their characters. Oh, no. is telling us that Warner Bros. is hiring new actors and actresses to stand before a camera in the MK costumes and re-enact the moves frame by frame to get the digitized actor effect that the original games had. They're redoing the sprites from the ground up using much more modern high-definition technology. And I imagine that accompanying these new actors and actresses would be re-drawn animations for the blood and gore to make the game one bloody HD experience.

While there hasn't been an outright confirmation from Warner Bros., NetherRealm Studios, or the developers behind this interesting effort, we'll have to take's confirmation with a regrettable grain of salt.

Needless to say, I for one am hoping this game is real.

Sweaty Joystick Knobs.

The days of going to the local arcade and sweating profusely as you got your ass whipped or did some ass whipping at whatever fighting game of preference are long done and over. The coming of the PlayStation, the XBox, the Dreamcast, and their sequel machines helped destroy the arcade scene here in the states.

But what they didn't do was kill the genre. After almost ten years of near stagnation (the only constants for the longest time seemed to be unfinished Mortal Kombat games and the Tekken series) we've got fighting games coming out left and right and I, for one, couldn't be any happier.

To celebrate the fighting game revival that began last year (thanks Capcom!), I've created this little blog to mix my passion for writing and my passion for all things fighting games. For the longest time I've wanted to keep a blog going, but I kept losing interest in whatever it was that I was trying to blog about. Thus I picked a topic I'm always excited about and I'll keep it going for as long as I can afford to play video games.

The sweaty joystick knobs are back, and while it may or may not be against someone you're standing (or sitting) next to, it can be done from home against someone half the world away.