Monday, November 24, 2008

Heavy Metal

My computer got busted last week because of high winds that shut down the electricity abruptly and shorted something inside, well there goes about 100$ repair out of my wallet. I do have an old computer that serves as an replacement but it has 191 MB of RAM which is highly confusing because they don’t even make that much. So since it can barely run Firefox and I felt bad about not updating for what might be a week or more, I decide to write a post at my university. Really is awkward writing a blog post at university especially while looking up for some pictures because the subject isn’t exactly SFW. Hey, they don’t know me and I don’t know them, the feeling is mutual. So it’ll be short for today cause of limited time but don’t worry, I’ll do a sequel to the post to look into things that I don’t have time with right now.

No, I’m not talking about the music genre. Yes, I am talking about the animated film made in 1981. It supposedly obtained cult status now, but seems like I’m the only one in my area that knows about the film. Very rare to find for some legal reasons they never released it on video tape or anything, not exactly sure if that’s resolved yet. It was directed by the same director of the popular magazine of the same name of the movie: Heavy Metal. The magazine featured dark science fiction and fantasy set often with a little erotica and of course a touch of heavy metal music. The movie was probably made because of the rise and arguably the peak of popularity of Heavy Metal music and the magazine.

Imagine if you took a 14 year old heavy metal fanatic with raging hormones, you gave him an infinite supply of redbull and several animation houses at his disposal. You would get only one thing, the animated film known as Heavy Metal. Its pure adolescent fantasy filled with sex, violence and drugs. Too bad Power Metal wasn’t invented yet, because some of the fantasy albums would have fit perfectly in there.

I have a hard time grouping the film with others because it’s so unique. I would like to call it science fictions, but the movie tagline is ``A Step Beyond Science Fiction``. But surely it has science fiction attributes mixed with high fantasy and some touches of cyberpunk. Another problem with deciding the genre is that the film is split in different segments with each their different style and context.

The film starts out with the introduction, where you see an astronaut riding a futuristic silver 1960 corvette. Reality check before continuing because I’m not kidding. The guy brought to his daughter a green orb. Wasn’t really a good gift because the green orb is in-fact Loc-Nar the sum of all evil. Then the orb proceeds to melt the girls father in an instant, then forces the little girl watch events in which Loc-Nar influences trough the universes. That’s the setting the whole film is basically a series of events that Loc-Nar shows the little girl. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not really sure if that orb is really evil. Showing all that stuff to a little girl seems a little kinkier than evil, if you ask me.

Some would say the film is almost only popular because of the music. I don’t think it had everything to do with it but I bet it did have an huge influence at time. Because I wasn’t even born yet I can’t see the impact of it all. In fact it does have a kickass soundtrack some of the best metal of the time, I don’t especially like early 80`s heavy metal but I’m just nitpicking it right now. The soundtrack is also the main reason why it isn’t released into the home movies yet, legal reasons for releasing the tracks. Anyways the film features great artists like Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Black Sabbath and much more. All these songs fit perfectly the film, maybe I’m being bias I can’t really tell sometimes.

That’s all the time I have for today, pay attention for an update not only for the blog but on Heavy Metal I have a lot more to say.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Comix Zone

Comix Zone is an interesting game that I think sold on the pure graphic style and concept. Came out in 1995 on the Sega Genesis, since then it came out on the Gameboy Advance and more recently the Virtual Console on the Wii. Back then it was an amazing concept nothing like it ever seen before. Even today its been copied a few times but not in the same extent of comix zone. Still nothing really amazing gameplay wise pretty stock from the 90's but there just something about it that screams unique. Set inside a comic book you swing from panel panel fighting enemies drawn by the villain who is outside the comic book.

You play a freelance cartoonist/rock musician, ironically named Sketch Turner. While working on his new comic book named Comix Zone, a thunder storm comes by and somehow while not physically touching the comic, brings to life the main villain of his own comic! Mortus the main villain sucks you into the comic, because for some odd reason he can't defeat you in the real world. You meet Allissa Cyan who doesn't do anything really important apart from pointing the obvious, like yelling out "Watch out!" or "Go over there!". Mortus the lame villain he is gives you a second chance when you die in the first level, he goes and says "Oh, come on -- that was just too easy!". I don't think that's good for your supervillain rep there Mortus, giving a second chance to the hero? So you need to get at the end of the comic so you can be set free. See what happens when you mix some bad video game story lines with some bad comic storyline, you get no story line. One thing I do love about the story is that there aren't any real cut scenes the speech bubbles appear and you read the cheesy lines to find out whats going on.
The gameplay isn't amazing either, its a beat-em-up in essence. You run around beating up everything on screen while pulling switches and pushing boxes to continue. You do find your pet rat Roadkill who also got sucked into the comic, he helps you get into new areas and finding secret items and areas. The items you get are knifes, bombs, powerfists and health bottles all things you can use for battle. While fighting enemies you get the standard punch and combo to hard punch so you can connect to your final hard hit. Nothing amazing there either, seems like I'm making this look like a bad game but that's not where the game shines!

The game shines in the concept and visuals. You aren't in the comic book world you are in the comic itself. The whole game is full of color like in comic book. So you swing from panel to panel to get to the next page, which makes for a really cool experience. In total there are 3 world with 2 levels each, which makes 6 pages in all. Most of the enemies are drawn in real times, so you see the hand and pencil drawing the enemies. Even while fighting when you hit you see the classic "POW!!"
Like I mentioned earlier, the whole story is flowing with the game with the use of speech bubbles. There also those yellow text box at the corner of the panel, which I don't even know if there a name for those or not? Anyone care to inform me? Anyways, all the lines seem to be taken from some old cliché comic book dialog. You never say anything profound, mostly grunts and cheesy lines. Still it all blends flawlessly with the game, even the enemies have their say in the game. There is one little minor feature I like a lot, when you pause the game Sketch says in his speech bubble the time you have been playing. There's also at the last page in the corner you can clearly see that the comic is not quite finished, another little feature I love.
That's all the comic book like features in the game, there might be some more references in there but my knowing didn't spot them. They not only exploit the fact that you are inside a comic book but also the fact the comic is an object, a paper object in fact. You can use your rat to sniff ou secret areas and items, well the way he does that is by ripping a piece of the page and that reveals the area. Mortus also use this fact to defeat you, like burning the page. Even at some places if you make a hard flying hit the enemies will go flying trough the panel, in consequence ripping them. Take a close look at the pictures below the first you see the ripped panel and the second you Sketch using his ultimate move making the whole page rip to destroy enemies.There bummer with the game is that its short and hard. It seems like the style in the 90's, if the game is short make it hard so it'll last longer. They reason that its hard is that there are barely any health jars to pick up and the enemies sometimes don't have any flinch so they hit you trough your barrage of attacks. You only have one life I guess to keep up with the story and realism of the game world. Not unbearably hard but still very frustrating at times.

The game is a true gem that is surprisingly unknown. Both of the comic elements mix flawlessly and makes for a really great experience. Video game fans and comic books fans alike can't afford to miss out on this. I got this picture I find funny, I was trying to get a shot at his Superhero transformation, but I got something extra with this ridiculous caption.