Friday, February 28, 2014

Separating the Game Boys from the Men: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

So after the events of the first Super Mario Land game Mario returns to his castle to chill out. I don't know when or how Mario ever got his own castle, but I would assume Peach gave it to him, it pays to be laying the old pipe with a Princess I guess. Anyways he gets back to his crib to find an old rival Warrio has taken it over. Warrio is a bigger, fatter, evil version of Mario, although I get the feeling from the games instruction manual and old tie in comics from Nintendo Power that maybe Mario was a bully to him growing up and Warrio is really just trying to take his rightful pound of flesh. Anyways Mario must battle through 6 different themed zones to get six different gold coins to open the door to his castle to he can go in and take it back from Warrio.

Like the first Super Mario Land Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto wasn't involved in this game and just like the first one it's actually kinda better for it. Like the previous game this one has very unique and interesting enemies and some slightly different game play dynamics than NES and SNES Mario games. With your power ups you get the standard flower that lets you shoot fireballs (not the "superballs" from the last game) and a carrot that gives you bunny ears you can flap like wings to glide like the raccoon tail in Super Mario Bros. 3. Also different is the game keeps a counter of how many enemies you killed and every time you get 100 you get an invincibility star. Graphically the game does its best to emulate the style of Super Mario World with similar sprites and overworld design, and even brings in the spinning jump from that game. As for enemies you get your standard goombas and kooper troopers, but also all sorts of oddball baddies, sharks wearing boxing gloves, giant ants, cow/fish hybrids, witches, vampires, aliens, even ghost goombas in the Halloween themed Pumpkin Zone. The game is pretty easy until you get to the castle at which point there is a pretty drastic difficulty spike. Still not super hard but definitely a sudden change. Once you work your way through the castle you fight Warrio in three forms, regular Warrio, bunny ears Warrio, and fireballs Warrio. Defeat him and the castle is once again yours.

I absolutely love this game, I listed it before on my top ten Mario games list. The clever and unique enemy design is memorable as hell and it's a shame most of these enemies never popped up in future Mario games. And the level design was great too, I especially loved the space levels, even if the low gravity jumping on the moon can be frustrating before you get used to it. And of course this game introduced Mario's lovable evil doppelganger Warrio, so what's not to love there. This is probably one of the best games the Game Boy ever had, so if you never played it, do yourself a favor and get yours hands on a copy, even if it's just on virtual console or something.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review(s) of the Week: Superior Spider-man #28 and Tomb Raider #1

So in this issue the Goblins take Spider-Island while Ock-Spidey retreats leaving his men to die, the now mutated and Goblinized Carlie Cooper catches up with Ock-Spidey and demands he helps cure her mutation, Mayor Jameson unleashes an army of re-purposed Spider Slayers to go after the Goblins, and Mary Jane reminds me why I missed her as she proceeds to kick the ass of some Goblin henchmen who came after her using one of Peter's web shooters she kept and then takes initiative to get Aunt May and her husband to safety knowing that the Goblins would be targeting Peter's loved ones.

A lot going on in this issue and I didn't even cover all of it, things are really coming to a head in a big way. This is proving to be a fantastic ending to the Ock-Spidey saga. Oh and damn I miss MJ. If you haven't been reading this series I would say go grab the first trade start getting caught up because this is the first time Spidey has been really good since that One More Day abomination.
So following the events of the recent Tomb Raider game Lara is suffering PTSD and then she meets up with some guy about...you know what, fuck it, I'm not doing a plot synopsis. I've said before that the original Tomb Raider is one of my favorite video games ever. I loved the character of Lara Croft, I loved the games, and I loved the old Top Cow comic. But they took Tomb Raider, which was a fun, exciting, and sexy adventure series and turned it into the grim, gritty, angsty thing it is now like every other joyless soulless brown and grey thing being farted out by the video game industry. Video games are suffering from exactly what happened to comics in the later 80's, they've got a decent amount of mainstream acceptance so they want to prove how "mature" they are by making every thing dark and serious, even if it definitely shouldn't be, and even if 90% of the games out there don't have nearly as much to say about anything as the creators with delusions of artistic grandeur seem to think.

I guess if you loved Uncharted: Chick Edition, I mean the new Tomb Raider, then this comic is for you, but if like me you preferred the Tomb Raider franchise back before she started dressing in black and cutting herself then go dig the original Tomb Raider #1 comic from a back issue bin.

Talking porn, Churchianity, and feminists with Aurini

I was on Aurini's podcast again the other day. We talked about porn, feminists, and most of all Churchianity. Check it out here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Separating the Game Boys from the Men: Super Mario Land

It's rare when there's a Mario game that Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto had nothing to do with and it's even rarer still when they're not absolute crap, so this game is pretty unique in that it's a Mario game Miyamoto had nothing to do with that's actually really good. Like one of the best Mario has had kinda good.

This game is in many ways very similar to Super Mario Bros 1. for the NES. It's the same platform style of gaming, Mushrooms make you big, you jump on enemies, even the basic sprites look very close to Super Mario 1, but there are a few small changes, some of which really change the game play in some significant ways. From of a story perspective this is a different Princess in this one, Princess Daisy and instead of rescuing her from Bowser you save her from an alien named Tatanga. From a game play perspective one of the small changes that made a big impact was instead of a flower giving you fireballs they give you what the game calls "superballs". These you spit down at the ground right in front of you and the ricochet off of the ground and other surfaces. You can only fire one at a time so if one is busy bouncing around you can't launch another until it hits an enemy or eventually disappears after a certain amount of time. Also they will gather up coins for you they hit which in some cases is the only way to get hard to reach coins. It might not sound like a big change but you need a bit of strategy sometimes with them you didn't with the fireball power you could just spam the hell out of. The game also has levels in which you pilot a little plane or submarine with unlimited missiles or torpedoes respectively. Both of those levels are autoscrolling, which I hate, but spamming the fire button is pretty fun.

And the biggest change is the enemies, the Goombas and piranha plants return, but other than that everything is different. There are turtle like creatures, but they're not koopa troopers, instead they have bombs for shells and if you jump on them they explode after a second or two, so obviously killing them can bite you in the ass if you're not careful. Beyond that there's killer Easter Island heads, 1950's sci-fi style robots who's heads fly off towards you, different kinds of spiders, and even Sphinxes. Lots of imaginative enemies you never really see in other Mario games.

This game is 25 years old this year, and is still a blast. If you've never played it you're really missing out. Used copies are pretty easy and cheap to find, so do yourself a favor and get it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Bechtloff's Book of Genesis: Quackshot

The basic story to this game is imagine Donald Duck as Indiana Jones. That's about it. Donald must go from location to location, frequently back tracking into old locations, to eventually get a big treasure. Your weapons include a plunger gun that only stuns enemies and a popcorn gun that can take them out although that one has very limited ammo.

If my description seems pretty short it's because there really isn't much to this game which is its biggest problem. This game is very short and ridiculously easy. Some of you might be saying "Well what did you expect, it's a kid's game." Well so are Mario and Sonic, but they've had great and even challenging games. Even Disney has had great games, Duck Tales for the NES for example. Also this game is not only not challenging but it's also a little tedious. The fact that the plunger gun just stuns enemies doesn't really add any challenge as it's easy to walk past them, but it does make dealing with enemies less satisfying.

On the plus side the graphics are good for an early Genesis game and the music is really good, but there just isn't much memorable or interesting about this game beyond that. It lacks the Disney charm and wit that Disney properties of the time like Duck Tales or Darkwing Duck had, and it really doesn't even take advantage of being an Indiana Jones parody in any interesting way.

I've heard a lot of good things about this game, but I just don't see it. You're much better off getting one of the Disney games Capcom made for the NES or failing that just getting Duck Tales Remastered.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review of the Week: New Warriors #1

So New Warriors is back, which is good because it means I still get to read about Scarlet Spider since his book was canceled. What's the story here? Well it seems the High Evolutionary is out killing different non humans as some sort of purge, and we cut to our various heroes, still in various locations dealing with it. That's about it, this issue serves mostly to introduce the characters to the readers who may not be familiar with all of them.

This was a good read. And given that Jonathan Hickman's run on the various Avenger's book is crawling three feet up its own ass, this book fills a void for just a good old fashion fun super hero team book. As I said, I'm thrilled Scarlet Spider has a new home and hasn't just vanished into comic book limbo after his cancellation. And the art and writing were both thoroughly enjoyable. My only two complaints were I wish Firestar was in this, I always thought her and Justice made a great couple, and try as I might I just can't muster up a damn to give about the High Evolutionary. But a book like this isn't about the villain, it's about this group of heroes being brought together and how they work out their differences to gel as a team, and so far it looks like it's going to do that wonderfully. So check it out.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bechtloff Movie Night: The Lego Movie (2014)

As with most of my reviews of movies still in the theaters I won't do a plot synopsis in order to keep spoilers to a bare minimum. So with that said, making legitimately good family entertainment is a remarkably hard thing to do. Anyone can entertain children, children are stupid after all, but making something that children enjoy that also entertains their wiser, more jaded parents is considerably harder. The Lego Movie succeeds brilliantly at that, managing to be not just a kid's movie but a genuinely charming and witty family film. The writing is clever, the humor is sharp while never being something a parent would have to worry about little ears hearing, and the voice acting is superb. I especially loved Will Arnett's douchey rendition of Batman. Seriously, in it's own tongue in cheek way it's almost Kevin Conroy good. All that is especially surprising given that this could have easily been a 90 minute toy commercial. Not only is it not that, but it's almost exactly the opposite of that.

You see, while this movie has a lot of subtle and not so subtle satire of various aspects of modern society, the thing it seemed to me to satirize the most is Lego itself. More specifically what Lego has become as a company and a toy line, mainly the fact that Lego doesn't seem to nurture and encourage creativity the way it once did and frankly any toy centered around building things should. I remember when I was a kid, Lego was first starting to get into specialized sets, but they were still very generic themes, Castle, Pirate, Space, etc. Sure when you bought a big Lego castle there were specific instructions on how to build the castle on the box, but there was also instructions on how to build a different castle, or two smaller castles, and there were a good amount of extra pieces, encouraging you to build different things. But once Lego started to get into the licensed properties game a lot of that encouraging of experimentation fell by the way side. I put together a Lego Superman set a while ago for kicks and found only one thing in the book to build and one little extra piece that might have simply been in the box as a mistake. Lego now seems to encourage simple instruction following over creativity.

And that's exactly what this movie criticizes. The bad guy who has taken over the world is obsessed with order and making everyone follow the instruction booklets and the rebel good guys are trying to return things to a more chaotic and creative time when you just built whatever you wanted. To me that's the most remarkable thing about this movie, it's not the toy commercial it easily could have been, it's both a fantastic family movie and actually criticizes the very company who's toys the movie ostensibly exists to sell.

Friday, February 14, 2014

By pedestaling women, Churchianity treats them like children.

I was home from work today due to this winter's latest snowpocalypse and got a chance to listen to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk on the radio for the first time in a while. For those of you who don't know, James Dobson is like the Churchianity version of Oprah. He usually spouts out lifestyle and family advice with a Churchianity bent and when he's not busy doing that he's promoting Rick Santorum style social conservative politics. Well today on his show he had the husband and wife author/speaker duo Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth to discus a book about the first year of marriage. The two shared a story about how early on in their marriage Robert was working as a youth pastor and had lead two troubled drug addled teens to Christ that night. This resulted in him getting home late, around 11 or so, and Bobbi came unhinged on him. When he told her what he was doing her response was simple.

"I don't care."

Apparently to this nominally Christian woman, the fact that her husband had turned around the lives of two troubled teens and, oh yeah, lead two eternal souls to salvation in Christ paled in comparison to the sin of her husband breaking some sort of arbitrary curfew she had imposed. While everyone agreed that Bobbi should have expressed her concern to her husband more politely, everyone also seemed to agree that the real crime was that Robert wasn't prostrating himself at the alter of this woman's feeeeelings. Dobson shared a similar story of himself coming home late early in his marriage. When he got home he saw a police helicopter was over his neighborhood shinning a search light apparently looking for someone. When he got in the house the first thing he asked his wife was about the helicopter and if everything was OK. This was apparently also very very wrong of the good doctor. I guess the possible mortal danger his family and neighbors were in wasn't as important as apologizing for being late or asking how his wife's day was or some such crap.

Now I believe that a man's first allegiance aside from God is to his wife. So obviously one shouldn't always put work ahead of their marriage. But hey, sometimes work needs to be done doesn't it? All I could think as I listened to this show, aside from the fact that Bobbi came off as a raging cunt and I wondered how she could be considered charming and likable enough to be a professional speaker, was that in both of these stories the women in question were acting like absolute spoiled children. And the rather toxic advice to the men listening to this drivel was to enable the women in their lives who were doing the same.

Churchianity, which is little more than a religious version of third wave feminism, has turned women essentially into spoiled children, devoid of all responsibility. It's the Fireproof-ing of everything. Everything is the man's fault, even when it clearly isn't.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a pretty firm believer in innate sexual dimorphism in our species. Men and women are different, and have different strengths and weaknesses. Women are more emotional than men, I don't dispute that. But women are still capable of being adults. At least I assume so. Ladies, is Churchianity and third wave feminism right and you really are just spoiled fucking children who must forever be coddled? Am I giving you gals too much credit here? Well, if I am then do me a favor, if you aren't capable of being adults then kindly relinquish your gender's voting franchise and don't be surprised when the man in your life decides you need a good spanking now and then.

Or act like reasonable adults. One or the other please.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review of the Week: Superior Spider-man #27

So it seems the Green Goblin and his Goblin army have laid siege to New York and Ock-Spidey just can't figure out why his spider-bots can't detect any of them. He finally realizes how they have tampered with them and traces them down to the secret lair where the Goblin reveals that he knows Ock-Spidey is indeed Otto. However it was just a energy construct of Ock-Spidey using the Stunner tech so the Goblin's plans to trap him didn't work. So the Goblin send crew to attack Spider-Island. Meanwhile everyone seems to think that Spidey is in cahoots with the Goblin, and Peter Parker continues to gain strength in the back of Ock-Spidey's head.

This was a solid issue, I especially liked the back and forth between Ock-Spidey and Norman (assuming of course it really is Norman behind the mask), I always wondered what the two thought of each other. It's kinda odd that they've had so little interaction given that they are Spidey's two greatest foes of all time. The Ock-Spidey saga continues to be one of the best Spidey stories in years, and I can't wait to see how it all wraps up in the coming months.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Bechtloff's Book of Genesis: Toe Jam and Earl

I never got to play this game as a kid, I remember hearing about it, but just never played it. It's considered one of the great classics on the Genesis library, and as such copies can be pretty expensive for a Genesis game. But last week I bit the bullet and got myself a copy and I gotta say, I just don't get it.

First of all, the game is not at all what I expected. I mean it's a cartridge era mascot type game, so I assumed it would be a side scrolling platformer. Well it's not, it's a top down perspective dungeon crawler. "Crawler" being an apt word because unless you're using one of your power ups you walk around at an aggravatingly slow pace.
The idea here is that Toe Jam and Earl are aliens that have crash landed on Earth and must find the parts of their space ship to rebuild it and go home to their planet Funkatron. You start out on an island surrounded by water than you take elevators up to various islands floating in space because....ummm...I don't know. In fact, "I don't know" pretty much my feelings for this game. You have to avoid all sorts of nonsensically random enemies like devils, cupids, moms with babies in shopping carts, dentists, and giant hamsters in hamster balls. Most of the time the enemies barely seem aware of your existence and the only reason they hit you is you move so damn slow.

And then there's the power ups. You can get present boxes that you can go into your inventory to open that either give you a power up, or somehow blow up in your face. No way to tell. Like you could open it up and bees would come out and kill you. Even the "good" power ups are terrible, like when you get rocket skates and inevitably run right off the cliff.

On the plus side the graphics were good for an early Genesis game and the sprites and character designs are pretty cool. And the music is simply amazing. But beyond that I really don't see the appeal. I've heard this described as brilliant and subversive social commentary, and I really don't see it. There are no real gags here, just a bunch of random shit thrown together. I know I'm in the minority opinion on this one, but I give this game a measly one and a half red alien Flava Flav analogues out of five.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Post apocalyptic Sonic the Hedgehog?

Sega just announced a new Sonic TV show and video game line called Sonic Boom and these are the redesigns. It looks like Sonic combined with Fallout or something. I kinda like Tails' mechanic look, but I don't know what the hell is up with that roided up Knuckles. I have zero interest in this, both as a game and as a cartoon. I mean I could be wrong and it could be awesome, but I doubt it. Sonic has only had one cartoon that wasn't garbage, the SATAM one. I wish they would just restart that instead of this sort of nonsense.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My thoughts on the Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate.

So the other day Bill Nye had a debate with creationist Ken Ham. Now I'm a man of faith, but even as a Christian guys like Ken Ham embarrass me. You see, despite being a man of faith I'm also a man of reason. In fact a major reason I came to faith in Christ was examining the evidence for his resurection and concluding that it seems this man did indeed get up out of his tomb. And when someone does that, it's time to take his claims about himself seriously. And in much the same way I am an evolutionist, because that's where the evidence points. Some like Ken Ham might ask how I reconcile the two together, for that answer I could go on and on but the short version is ultimately I don't know. And I'm frankly OK with that. I'm a finite creature with a finite mind and I am perfectly content to accept the fact that I don't know everything and while I can grow and learn I never will know everything.

Now it's not as if creationists don't bring up valid points, and there are certainly a lot of things evolutionists have a hard time explaining, but there was one statement from Ken Ham that really sums up why I don't, and really can't take him seriously as a scientist or even frankly as a man. When asked what kind of evidence would or could ever change his mind Ken Ham admitted that no amount of evidence will ever change his mind.

That my friends is not science. That is not even faith. That is delusion.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review of the Week: Forever Evil #5

Our issue begins with Deathstroke and the hand full of villains sent by the Crime Syndicate confronting Luthor and his gang of villains as well as Batman and Catwoman. We have a nice little fight between Power Ring and Sinestro in which Sinestro kills Power Ring and the ring flies off to seek a new host. Luthor, Batman, and the rest manage to fight off the villains and even talk Deathstroke into joining them. And Batman must reluctantly agree that Luthor in in charge of this show, not him. Finally we see that whatever destroyed the Crime Syndicate's world has followed them.

This was a solid issue, and has been a decently entertaining event all around, but it really is indicative of the problems with the New 52 as a whole. This event has no theme, no moral center. I mean what is this really about? It's kinda all over the place. Even the portrayals of the Syndicate are incredibly shallow compared to how writers like Kurt Busiek portrayed them. I'm enjoying this all around, but as with most of the better parts of the New 52, I can't help but feel it would have been better in the pre-Flashpoint DCU.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Geeking out with Aurini

Aurini was kind enough to have me as a guest on his latest podcast. We talked about how social justice crusaders are ruining geek culture, fake girl geeks vs real girl geeks, and the bronies. Check it out here.

Why Geek Culture matters, and we can't let the social justice crowd ruin it.

I've talked on here before about how social justice crusaders are hijacking and ruining geek culture. But some people have asked me why that really matters. Certainly there's more important fronts to fight hardcore leftiods than trivial pop culture. I've even seen some in the manoshpere claim that geek culture is a waste of time and even toxic and you might as well let the privilege checkers take it.
 
So first of all is geek culture inherently toxic? Well certainly things like video games can give men a false a sense of agency, or purpose, and can overtake a person's life. Most of us geeks have probably known at least someone who, at least for a while, had fallen so far down the World of Warcraft rabbit hole that we wondered if they would ever see natural light again. And certainly there are people who let being a fan of this or that become the end all and be all of their identity. But if you're going to blame geek culture for the fact that some people get consumed by it than I guess you have to blame alcohol for the fact that some people are drunkards. We need to blame the one who abuses, not the thing being abused.

But why does geek culture matter? Isn't geek culture just full of all those weirdos? Well yes, and it's those weirdos who pull civilization up. I'm reminded of what Aaron Clarey said on his blog, "ADD/ADHD/Aspergers can pay for the US Debt". Because what we need, what we always need, is that special blend of creativity and intelligence that the geeks of the world have.

But it's not just technology, geek culture is ultimately the imagination of the culture. And art, movies, literature, these things matter. Sure technology helps us survive, but art is one of those things we survive for. Don't you want there to be good TV shows on, good video games to play, good books to read? Do you want to play games like Depression Quest and Gone Home? Of course you don't, nobody does. But those are the games these social justice crusaders will produce. And those things will shape the minds and the imaginations of the smart kids out there. Will they be encouraged to do the things that build up civilization, or wallow in victimhood and privilege checking?

Geek culture matters, because whoever molds geek culture molds a culture's imagination. And it's well past time we started getting a little red pill perspective into geekdom.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mega Man/Mega Man X comic book crossover announced.

Starting this month the Mega Man comic will feature Mega Man X back up stories, and not it was just announced that Mega Man and Mega Man X will meet in a crossover story starting in issue 37. I only recently started playing the X series myself, having recently gotten 1-6 on the PS2 collection, so I'm not all that familiar with the X mythos, but I still think this will no doubt be a great read, and I suspect will probably lead into a Mega Man X ongoing. Also of note, Dreamwave was going to do this crossover back when they had the Mega Man license, but they went belly up before they had a chance. Check out the interview with Archie's Ian Flynn and Paul Kaminski over at Destructoid.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

In case you didn't hear...

A great actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, was found dead today. You might not have heard about that since nobody is talking about it because the country was busy being enthralled by a bunch of overpaid apes throwing a ball around and candy bar commercials about cuckolding.

I was wrong about the Bronies (sorta)

A while back on this blog, I talked about the strange phenomenon of Bronies. Recently however I watched a video by Jordan Owen defending the Bronies that actually got me to give the issue a second thought. I then watched a couple of episodes of the show and I have to admit, it's not bad. It's witty, funny and charming. And Pinkie Pie never ceased to make me laugh with her manic energy. I wouldn't call myself a fan of the show, and I doubt I'll be watching it much more in the future, but I can completely see why people, yes even grown men, would enjoy this show. Plus I've heard a lot of people argue the show is full of red pill and even reactionary themes, though I haven't watched enough of it to be able to say that first hand. So never let it be said that the Bechtloff can't admit when he's wrong. I was wrong about the Bronies.

Sorta.

I used to watch Powerpuff Girls and Kim Possible back when they were on and they're both kinda "girly" shows. Both of them were brilliant cartoons, but by the same token I never dressed up as Kim Possible or jerked off to the Powerpuff Girls. The Bronies, at least some of them bring it on themselves. I mean it's pretty hard not to laugh at someone like this isn't it?
I suppose all fandoms have their more embarrassing members, but somehow the Bronies just seem to be far more devoid of shame and self awareness than others. Then you get the social justice homos who claim that this "redefinition" of masculinity is somehow a good thing. As if further feminizing of men is what out culture needs. So I guess I find myself on the fence, I agree some of these guys deserve the scorn they get, but some of these guys just like a show, and really don't deserve all the hatred.