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Burning the midnight oil at noon

ActRaiser Renaissance and Why I Shouldn’t Have Played It (So Much)

The Wii’s Virtual Console was a pretty incredible thing, and one of the reasons why: it introduced me to a fair number of classic games that I never would have experienced otherwise. ActRaiser for SNES being one of them, if you hadn’t already sussed that out from the post title. I can vaguely remember reading about ActRaiser (or perhaps its sequel?) in Nintendo Power, very specifically while with my family at the drive-in theatre, waiting for a movie to start. But I never actually played it until many, many years later when it was released on the VC. And you know what? It’s a pretty cool game! Part action-platformer, part SimCity Lite, it’s got surprisingly few imitators to this day despite how well-received it was and how fondly remembered it seems to be.

Square-Enix surprised the world last year by releasing a remake of the game, called ActRaiser Renaissance. I feel a little bad about waiting over a year to play it, but there are simply too many games, you know? But I have played it now, and I thought that it was very good! It’s a very faithful remake, as it brings back literally everything I remember about the original and polishes up the presentation with fancy new graphics and a rearranged soundtrack by the composer of the original, Yuzo Koshiro. And that’s all great! There are also a ton of new features, like being able to level up your character and get power-ups in the action stages, and a new tower-defense mode for the simulation stages. There’s also an absolute buttload of extra dialogue, which, having read it all, is pretty safe to skip entirely.

Where things go wrong, however, are in the trophies (or achievements, if you prefer). While most of the trophies are awarded for beating bosses, at least half of them are awarded for what amounts to grinding levels and farming monsters.

Continue reading ActRaiser Renaissance and Why I Shouldn’t Have Played It (So Much)

Grand Re-Re-Re-Opening

So, my WordPress theme, “Weaver II”, has been woefully outdated for some time now. I don’t much like the idea of installing a new theme and having to tweak everything to get it back to the way I like it, but such is life.

That said, I have (clearly) installed a new theme, and so things are going to look a little wonky around here for a bit. I’m not the most proactive guy around, so no guarantees that things will improve quickly. You’re just going to have to appreciate “Twenty Fifteen”‘s out-of-the-box look for a while.

Migraine Watch: Nov 14, 2022

I thought I might die yesterday. It seems that all the migraines that I haven’t had over the last two and a half years have joined together to inflict upon me a Super Migraine.

I woke up with a sharp pain behind my right eye. This is kind of the usual post-migraine pain for me, so I assumed that the migraine had come and gone while I was asleep (it’s happened before!) and I just had to put up with the fallout. Not so bad! So I started going about my day as usual.

Around 10:30, though, the pain started to worsen, and I decided to write off the rest of the morning and nap until the afternoon. At noon, my vision began to degrade, and I knew things were only just beginning. A while later, the aura subsided and the true pain began. My brain felt like it was being stabbed repeatedly. My right eye felt like it was trying to pop. My ear felt as though someone had jammed an icepick into it, and I developed a massive toothache on the right side of my mouth. As if all that pain weren’t enough, I had full-body chills and felt like I could throw up at any moment for the rest of the day.

So, I ended up spending almost the entire day trying to sleep on the couch with a mixing bowl by my side. It was so bad, in fact, that I texted my parents to bring me some ibuprofen on their way home from work. Normally, I can get through a migraine without any medication, but this one was like nothing I’ve felt before. I’ve never had one that’s lasted the entire day before, either. It’s usually just a few hours at worst. Like I said, Super Migraine.

I’d wager that this one was likely brought on by stress from the previous day. But I didn’t think I had been that stressed out? I mean, I definitely was, but it was for a short while and easily resolved, and I ended up perfectly content. In any case, it was self-inflicted and royally stupid, so I don’t want to talk about it.

The good news is that I feel completely back to normal today. Hooray!

TV in short form

I’ve watched a few new shows this year! But I haven’t ever really found the drive to press any words about them. So today, rather than anything that tries to be insightful or whatever, here are some random thoughts about a few of them. Think of it as a Month End TV Show Wrap-Up, only it’s for all of 2022 so far, and this is probably the only one that’s going to happen.

Midnight Mass

Horror mini-series on Netflix. Midnight Mass opens with a fella returning to his island home after having been in prison for years. Then you meet pretty much everyone who lives on said island (the ensemble cast is huge!) and follow their Christianity-themed adventures. But of course I told you this is a horror series, so certain elements may not be as they initially seem!

And speaking of things that aren’t exactly what they seem… well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the villain! You’ll spend a long time waffling over who you think the villain is in this one. There are a lot of red herrings, and thankfully they’re all written in ways that make sense. But also… Maybe there are multiple villains! Or maybe I’m just trying to trick you and there are no villains! The only way to find out is to watch the show!

Definitely dug this one, but it doesn’t really get going until the end of episode five, so it’s going to seem like a struggle for a while. The payoff is well worth it, though! The last two episodes are great! I’d actually like to say more about it, but I watched it in April or something, so most of the finer details have slipped my mind. And also, I want to avoid the spoilers. Telling you pretty much anything about this one is a spoiler.

Continue reading TV in short form

Desire: A Follow-up

You know that meme, “how it started/how it’s going”? I’m doing that today, but in text form!

Basically, I just want to take a quick look back at my “24 Days of Desire” feature and see how many of them have been fulfilled. It’s been almost a year now, I should have been able to get everything I wanted, right? Let’s see!

Day 1: Television – This was about me wanting to have cable, and if I recall correctly, it was specifically so I could watch the Chucky series. Well, I never got cable, because that would be stupid, and I still haven’t watched Chucky, because I don’t pirate TV shows or movies any more. Chucky is also on Paramount+, which has other things I want to watch, so I’m thinking about a subscription to that… But probably won’t bother.

Day 2: A better GPU – Ain’t got this. I’ve heard that prices are going down, but I haven’t bothered to look in many months. Besides, I only wanted it to beef up my Quest 2, so it’s right down at the bottom of my priority ladder.

Day 3: Star Wars sequels box set – I haven’t looked to see if this exists, and I don’t actually care enough to check. This was a filler episode, for sure.

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Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: October 2022

~ Game Over ~

Shovel Knight Dig (Switch) – A roguelite prequel to Shovel Knight, it’s not what I would have asked Yacht Club for, but it’s what we got. Looks great, sounds great, but unfortunately… roguelite. Somehow, I managed a winning run after only about two hours of gameplay, so that was a nice surprise. It’s got a few creepy enemies, but I wouldn’t call it even slightly spooky.

Resident Evil 2 (PC) – Played this many times, actually! Leon A (easy), Claire A (randomizer), Leon A (normal), and finally, the Kendo’s Cut mod. I wanted to get at least one B story run in, but just ran out of time. Needless to say, ’tis a fairly spooky game.

Power Wash Simulator (PC) – Finally loaded it up to play the last few stages added to the official release. Such a nice, satisfying way to waste time. Not at all spooky, though.

Continue reading Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: October 2022

Movieween 2022 Round-Up

Full disclosure: I have not been a very good Halloween turbofan this year. While I have leaned into it pretty hard on the ol’ YouTube channel, that’s really the most I’ve done. My condo is scarcely decorated – all that’s out are a Halloween Pumpkaboo plush and a dish towel with skellingtons on it. I’ve also been way behind on watching any season-appropriate films or television programs. But I did manage to sneak in a couple movies. Here are my short reviews of them!

The Devil Below

The Devil Below is about a rag-tag group of scientists who set out to explore an old coal mine that had caught fire and been abandoned decades earlier. They’re not only in search of what caused the mine to catch fire, but also why the surrounding town had been abandoned and completely wiped off the map. Led by a spunky, uh… tour guide/bounty hunter/supermodel, it’s not long before they discover that there’s something a little more sinister lurking below the surface.

I’ll start off by saying that this film has an 8% Rotten Tomatoes score. Yikes! That’s especially dire! I didn’t think it was all that bad, though. Or… was it? I’m sitting here and struggling to think of positive things to say about it. The main character, played by Alicia Sanz, was pretty cool. Though her acting was a bit stiff; I’m not sure if that was a choice to make the character more aloof or simply bad acting. The movie managed to hold my interest for the most part – I may have picked up my phone here and there, but it’s not like I had my Switch in hand at any point.

Onto the bad! Personally, I kind of hated the monster designs. Not that they’re necessarily bad. But they’re supposed to be this advanced race of insect-like creatures and they just look like people with oversized lamprey masks and claws. I appreciate that most/all the effects were practical, but the creature design didn’t really seem to fit the lore, especially since the boss monster resembles a termite queen. Although I suppose that “too anthropomorphic” isn’t the worst thing you can say about a monster design. On the upside, they did wait a very long time to give viewers a decent look at the creatures. Way to show restraint, director!

Other than that, the story was very paint-by-numbers, none of the other characters were endearing in the least, and it was much too dark throughout. Most importantly, there’s no satisfying resolution to anything. I’d like to know more about the creatures other than “they’re kinda like ants or bees”. I’d have liked to see more of the background story of the miners initially fighting off the creatures and sealing them away. I’d like to know why this allegedly superior race isn’t popping up anywhere else in the world. I mean, they live underground and eat people. How could they have survived for decades trapped in a burning coal mine with no food? Cannibalism, presumably, but that’s not a fun answer and would realistically only take a species so far.

Upon reflection, yeah, The Devil Below is not a good movie. But I didn’t feel strongly either way about it while I was watching it and I certainly didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time watching it. I also think that the 8% approval rating is a bit harsh. I’d say it’s more deserving of something in the 15%-20% range.

There’s Someone Inside Your House

Let’s begin with a fun fact: Actress Jesse LaTourette is in both this movie and The Devil Below. I did not recognize that it was the same actress, and probably would have gone my whole life without learning that fun little coincidence had I not been Googling these films to learn their casts’ names.

And that’s probably the most interesting thing I have to say about There’s Someone Inside Your House.

I called The Devil Below paint-by-numbers, but that almost seems unfair when you compare it to There’s Someone Inside Your House. This is the most boring, uninspired, cliché-driven movie that I have watched in a long time. Tears! I was bored to them! Well, not like, literal tears, but my soul was weeping. Because not 15 minutes in, I realized that I was watching Teen Revenge Slasher #3087 and I felt despair fill my gut. Sure, I could have simply turned the movie off, but I foolishly held out hope. And instead of rewarding me, There’s Someone Inside Your House just took a dump in my living room. Again, not literally.

Here’s the plot synopsis: Teens are getting murdered in a Middle American town, and it’s up to our gang of misfits to try to figure out who it is before they all get killed themselves. Sound familiar? YUUUP. If that had been Netflix’s synopsis, I would never have pressed play. Instead, they gave me hope by telling me that James Wan (Insidious) and Shawn Levy (Stranger Things) produced it. This is a cautionary tale to not watch things just because people who’ve made things that you like are involved!

I’ll go ahead and say that I didn’t much care for anything about this movie, but the most egregious part by far is that I didn’t really understand the killer’s motivation. He does a big ol’ exposition dump at the end, and I kinda get that end goal was to kill his dad in a huge, cinematic fashion, but then… what about all the teens who died along the way? I guess the idea is that he’d cracked and decided to just kill anyone who’d done something bad, but eh… it just rings hollow. If your plan is to expose people’s nasty secrets to the rest of the town, why not just do that? Why go the extra mile to murder them? Wouldn’t it be worse to have to live with their horrible secrets revealed? I guess the severity varies by character, but whatever, I still didn’t like it.

What mystifies me the most is that There’s Someone Inside Your House has a 47% Rotten Tomatoes rating!? The most bland, derivative movie I’ve watched in recent memory, and it’s got that much better a rating than The Devil Below? Really??? While I didn’t much care for The Devil Below, I did feel like I wanted my 1 hour and 36 minutes back after watching There’s Someone Inside Your House. And if that’s not the most damning criticism, I don’t know what is.

Okay, so maybe I did end up having some more interesting things to say. Who knew!?

Silent Hill

Nothing new to say here, I would think. Seen this movie probably a half-dozen times, but I haven’t watched it in a decade, at least. And with the announcement of a new SH movie in the works, I figured now was the perfect time to revisit it.

But first, a short aside: As this movie came out in the stone age, I still have a copy on DVD, and that’s how I watched it. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a DVD, and I’d actually forgotten that they used to put ads before movies. What wild times those were!

If you had asked me before, I would have told you that in my opinion, Silent Hill is the best live-action video game movie. I know it’s a low bar to clear, but I always really liked this one. If you asked me now? Well, it’s hard to say. I was a little bit high when I was watching this, and also texting with a potential date throughout most of it, and also I fell asleep for the last half-hour or so. So it would be hard to say that I really watched Silent Hill, and as such, I don’t have a revised opinion to provide. Here are a few random thoughts, though!

Sean Bean is in it a lot more than I remembered. Like, he’s got a whole B plot where he’s trying to figure out where the heck Rose and Sharon went to. I knew he was involved at the beginning and end, but no, he’s got scenes all throughout the film. And yet still I can’t remember what his character’s name is!

Most of what I did remember are the parts of the movie that are closely based on the game(s). The general plot, the sequence where Rose is wandering through the alleys and gets attacked by the monster kids, how half of the monsters are actually from Silent Hill 2, stuff like that. Anything that was originally introduced for the movie? Basically all new to me. Except for the part where Pyramid Head rips off that one girl’s skin. That moment will forever be burned into my nightmares.

I really dislike how the movie grinds to a halt for a 10-minute exposition sequence. It’s really bad and I can’t fathom that nobody involved in the production could come up with a better alternative.

So, I’ll probably have to watch Silent Hill again soon, but with a little more focus. I have no intent of revisiting Silent Hill: Revelation though, as I didn’t much care for that one.

Ballistics?

New Resident Evil 4 Remake trailer!!!!!!!!!!!!

And now that we get to see some actual gameplay… it looks incredible! Looks like it’ll be my personal favourite kind of remake: one that very faithfully re-creates a game, but then makes a few changes and adds some new elements to keep it fresh for fans of the original. Just like RE2 Remake!

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I really dig Ashley’s new 80-year-old-lady jacket/scarf combo. It’s so weird and out of place, but I’m absolutely here for it.

And hey, lots of castle footage! Salad Bar’s back, baby!

Oh, uh, right. And there’s a new gameplay trailer too…