Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review of the Week: Mega Man #37

Well, here it is, the start of the Mega Man/Mega Man x crossover. Our story starts in X's time as we see that the comic original anti-robot extremist group the Emerald Spears is still around in that time period and still causing problems. Back to Mega Man's time we see Mega Man along side Bright Man and Pharaoh Man exploring one of Wily's old labs while Dr. Light, Dr. Cossack, and the supposedly but not really reformed Dr. Wily listen in on their progress. Then we cut to the leader of the Emerald Spears Xander Payne breaking into the Chronos Institute and using their experimental time machine. Back in Wily's old lab one of Wily's killer robots activates and Mega Man is seemingly crushed while pushing Bright Man out of its path. We then cut back to X's time with Dr. Cain and X exploring the ruins of that very lab and finding the shattered remains of Mega Man's helmet and the very killer robot we saw earlier.

This issue was a good start to the crossover, and I'm curious to find out where we're going with all this next issues. But, I can't help but feel doing this crossover at this time is a big mistake. One of the biggest problems with the Sonic/Mega Man crossover was it was rushed so much we had to do some reality altering shenanigans to get all the important Mega Man characters into it. I mean for as long as this comic has run we are still only at about Mega Man III as far as what we've covered. Hell, Proto Man is still in his villainous Break Man phase, and we have yet to have a proper Bass introduction. I mean I'm a sucker for crossovers, but we really should have let Mega Man's world flesh itself out some more before getting into this. Maybe just do some Mega Man X back up stories some more in the mean time. Still a damn solid issue to a damn solid book, my misgivings about possibly doing something like this too soon aside.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Separating the Game Boys from the Men: Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario 3

I was going to do up a review of Kirby's Dream Land 2 for my next Game Boy review but on the plane ride too and from Vegas I played the hell out of this this past weekend, so I thought I would take a look at it while it's fresh in my mind.

So for those of you who don't know the Super Mario Advance series were just remakes of old Super Mario games. They got remade in a really weird order, first Super Mario 2, then Mario World, then Yoshi's Island, then Mario 3. For the most part this version of Mario 3 is just the 16 bit version from Super Mario All Stars from the SNES.

What is there to say about Super Mario 3? I listed in on here before both as one of my favorite Mario games and one of my favorite games period, but having played the hell out of it here again recently I find myself amazed at just how many flaws this game has, and how good the game design is at making you overlook them. For one thing, the levels are insanely short. You should probably speed run though many of them in well under 10 seconds. Also so many of the awesome things you remember from this game were really barely in it. This game introduces so many cool things but never really gives you much time to enjoy them. Everyone talks about how awesome the frog suit is in the water world. But most the levels or water world you're still much better off with a fire flower. Everyone loves the boot in world 5, but that's strictly a one and done item. And the difficulty curve of this game is all over the place. I find world 6 to be the hardest and world 7 the second hardest. And the final fight with Bowser is painfully easy. And yet despite these flaws this game is still beloved, even by those like me who are well aware of the flaws? Is it just the nostalgia goggles? I don't think so. I think the game just does a great job of not letting you be mad at it. Sure the levels were short, but they were well designed and some were quite challenging. Sure the game doesn't make the best use of some of the power ups it was introducing, but you did barely notice because it was throwing so many at you.

As for this version of Mario 3, well the graphics are fantastic, sticking to the more 16 bit style than 8 bit. You can play a version of the original Mario Bros. game, and it has a save feature so it's a solid port. There are a few minor changes here and there, mostly to make the game easier, which I found a little annoying, but it's still a damn fine way to play this classic if you haven't before or just haven't in a while. So check it out.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How a female Dr. Who showed me the misogyny of the blue pill man.

About a month ago I was at a comic book convention as one of the vendors along side a couple of my closest friends. As is often the case at these sorts of things there were a lot of people cosplaying as various things. One in particular caught my eye, a young lady was cosplaying as a female Dr. Who. She was with her boyfriend who had stopped by our table to buy some comics, and she was, to put it mildly, rather eye catching. She was slim but shapely, she was dressed somewhat conservatively, tight skirt, the kind you would expect an office girl to wear, she had an undershirt on that would have left her shoulders exposed except for an unbuttoned over shirt over it and a bow tie around her otherwise bare neck. I don't know women's fashion so without knowing exact terms I hope that paints a picture. Her outfit was creative but still had a certain formal taste to it as well. She had long straight hair and was holding a small purse as well as a replica of that electronic wand thingie Dr. Who has, both of which she held in front of her in a very feminine way. Granted I admittedly don't know much about Dr. Who, nor do I wish to, but she seemed like exactly what one would imagine a female Dr. Who to look like. Now she was certainly a very pretty girl, but what really made her stand out to me was the remarkably feminine way she carried herself. Plus it helped that she had no visible trashy tattoos or piercings.

Eventually we hit a bit of a lull in customer volume and we were all sitting around talking and of course the conversation drifted towards some of the hot female cosplayers we had seen through out the day. My one friend, who mind you is a smart guy, very switched on in a lot of ways, but still oh so blue pill regarding women, was of course drawn towards the trashiest looking ones. All covered in ink and wearing their Daddy issues on their sleeves. When I mentioned how the female Dr. Who had caught my eye he literally sneered.

"I'm looking for a partner not a slave." he said.

I just rolled my eyes, shaking my head at how I once likely sounded just as idiotic in my blue pill days. But then this past week the whole incident occurred to me again and I mused on it a bit during the more monotonous parts of my day job. I'm sure my friend thought he was being oh so pro-woman with that dumb little comment, but the reality of it is in that moment he couldn't have been more of a misogynist.

Mind you, I almost hate to use that word, as it has been so stretched and tortured by feminists and other leftists. But he was being misogynist in a very true sense of the word as he was showing a contempt for femininity. The Dr. Who girl absolutely radiated femininity. Not even just femininity, but, at least superficially, seemed to radiate feminine virtue. She seemed to posses a self control and a dignity in how she carried herself. That stands out amongst your typical Western girl.

Much has been written about how the feminists and blue pill crowd are subtly and not so subtly misandric. And that is very very true. But in a subtle and very insidious way they are also misogynistic. They literally sneer at real feminine beauty. I'm sure I'm not the first to notice this, but it was still rather shocking once it really dawned on me. And to hear it from the mouth of an otherwise brilliant man, well, it's more than a little depressing.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol 1: Change is Constant (IDW) (Guest Review by Rawle Nyanzi)

In 2009, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise was sold to Nickelodeon. IDW Publishing then acquired the rights to print a new comic series alongside the original ones that were done by Mirage Studios, the franchise's previous owner. This volume, which re-imagines the Ninja Turtles' origin story, does an excellent job of reintroducing the Turtles to a new generation of comic readers, in addition to pleasing long-absent fans such as myself (I haven't really watched anything Turtles-related since the 1987 cartoon, and I only happened upon the movie "TMNT" by chance at a cousin's house.)

SUMMARY: Chemical company StockGen, run by Dr. Baxter Stockman, is performing experiments on a rat and four turtles. One of StockGen's interns, a college student named April O'Neil, takes a liking to the turtles in particular and gives them the familiar Renaissance artist names (Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Donatello.) But then two ninjas break into the lab one night while she is studying and make off with the animals and an experimental mutagen. The ninjas lose their take, but then an alley cat takes Raphael away shortly before the others are transformed by the mutagen. The cat loses Raphael when Splinter (the rat) confronts him, and both Raphael and the cat, Old Hob, mutate apart from each other. The story of this volume centers around Splinter and the Turtles' attempt to find Raphael, a search which had taken them over a year.

REVIEW: For a comic that has to introduce seven characters all at once, it does an excellent job, largely by giving each Turtle a clear, distinct personality through their dialogue, so you can even distinguish them in black-and-white when they aren't carrying their weapons (as I had to, reading on a Kindle Paperwhite.) Furthermore, in the few panels April appears in, she is shown as someone nice and carefree, with a sort of jokey personality that takes everything in stride (she initially thought that the ninja thieves were her co-workers playing a prank.) Likewise, the mutant cat Old Hob is straightforwardly bad; the comic doesn't try to be some deep philosophical study on the nature of heroism or evil. The story even manages to introduce Casey Jones without too much trouble (introducing him as the abused son of a drunkard. Thankfully, they don't dwell on the abuse in an effort to be "relevant.")

The action scenes are easy to follow, and it's always easy to tell who is hitting whom. It goes more for gritty realism than acrobatic kung-fu, with throws and slams being just as prevalent as strikes and kicks. The scenery also comes off as grimy and low, matching the mood of the fights.

The book falters a bit because it often transitions between the present day and anywhere from 18 to 15 months ago. The tags that explain what is taking place in the past or the present are small and easily missed, which can confuse unwary readers. Once you figure that out, though, it's fairly easy to follow the story.

Also at issue is the street thugs not using guns. Though the clear aim is to keep it from turning into some gore-fest and actually give the Turtles a chance to show their stuff, it strains credulity that bad guys wouldn't carry guns and shoot the Turtles dead on sight. It comes off like an obvious attempt to be kid-friendly, especially amid the otherwise gritty, realistic atmosphere.

All in all, though, a long-time Turtle fan or someone completely new to the Turtles would enjoy this comic. The characters and action alone would keep you coming back for more. One can't go wrong starting or restarting here.

PRO: Does a good job of introducing many of the core characters to old and new fans.

CON: The time transitions can be confusing; the bad guys do not use guns when one would realistically expect them to.
 
Rawle Nyanzi is an indie game developer, as well as an anime fan and history buff. His blog can be found here and his recent game, Parasite Lance, here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What is the Avengers about?

I didn't have a Podcast up this week due to the Vegas trip, but here is a quick little video in which I talk about what the central theme of the Avengers is.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review of the Week: Forever Evil #7

If you haven't already, check out my reviews of issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. I have to admit I was fooled by Nightwing's supposed death last issue. Turns out Luthor gave him a drug to flatline him and used adrenaline to revive him. We come to find out Superwoman's baby is actually Alexander Luthor's, the Justice League is freed, Lex manages to kill his Earth 3 counterpart, and most of the Syndicate die with only the big three surviving. Ultraman and Superwoman are taken to prison but Owlman remains on the lose. Also Luthor figures out who Batman is, not that that should be hard for anyone now that Nightwing is unmasked.

There was a lot of overall promise to this series, and some really strong moments, but it's hindered by the New 52 stink. While this issue is an excellent character piece for Lex Luthor. Also while Superwoman used to have a semi cuckoldy thing going on in the pre Flashpoint continuity, it was always a background thing, with her fucking Owlman on the side and it unclear how much Ultraman knew, but this issue cranked the cuckold fetish dial up quite a bit with a scene where she uses her Lasso of Submission to order Deathstorm to allow Alexander Luthor to kill him and absorb his power. "Die for my lover." Not to mention that the Syndicate are just not nearly as thought out as they were before the New 52. Back then their world had a moral system, the favor bank, now their world was just full of straight up assholes. As though a civilization could arise from that. This series wasn't terrible, but it does speak to the flaws of the New 52 in the sense that DC seems to now think "Make them an asshole." is the same as a three dimensional character.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Captain Capitalism tried to kill me.

I went out to Vegas this weekend to hang out with with Matt Forney, Davis Aurini, and Aaron Clarey AKA Captain Capitalism. Well, that God damn lunatic Aaron decided on Sunday instead of enjoying all of the fun Vegas debauchery for another day we should all drive three fucking hours to do a death march up a mountain somewhere in deserts of Utah. You know what's a fun thing to do in Utah? Pack up and leave. I'm convinced that he didn't even want to do it until he found out I was coming. He figured he would show that out of shape nerd who's never been hiking before by going on a climb that is as strenuous and steep as you can get without needing climbing gear. That's the only explanation for why he would suggest this gauntlet of doom. I mean only a masochistic madman would consider that fun. But what was I to do? I didn't want to be the guy who pussed out and didn't go. So, by the grace of God, I hauled my ass up and down that damn mountain. I was dead last in the group, but I didn't quit, and somehow didn't fall off. Mr. Clarey thinks he's damn funny with that little stunt, but mark my words, the Bechtloff shall have his revenge, as soon as I stop coughing up sand.

In all seriousness, as miserable as it was while I was climbing it, it was pretty damn awesome standing on the top of that peak. One of the things I love about these manoshpere guys is that they challenge me. I had a blast with Davis, Matt, and Aaron and I'm glad they had me along.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review of the Week: Fantastic Four Vol 5 #4

There really wasn't all that much out this week, so I picked this issue up on a whim. The story had The Fantastic Four, minus Human Torch who has lost his powers, along side the replacement FF team, battling the Wrecking Crew who are working for the Wizard. Honestly not all that note worthy except for the end, when they return to the Baxter Building they find SHIELD has barricaded it, removed the children of the Future Foundation into protective care, and is presenting Reed Richards with a laundry list of charges. Apparently in previous issues a bunch of monster had escaped from one of Reed's dimensional portals and they are holding him accountable. And I say it's about damn time.

Comics often run with the story line of super heroes being accused of being a menace. In most cases that's a load of crap, but with Reed, well they're kinda right. I've long thought Reed was a terrible person. He's the classic mad scientists who never stops to think of what he might unleash. The man literally has portals to dimensions full of monsters like three rooms down from where his kids sleep. These sorts of accusations of being a menace are nonsense against the Avengers, Spider-man, and even the X-men, but Reed, I kinda see SHIELD's point on this one.

Also I listed this as Volume 5, but I'm honestly not totally sure. Who they hell can keep up with all these new #1's?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Separating the Game Boys from the Men: Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland

I hadn't realized this until I recently started looking into the Kirby franchise, but the little pink puffball had an interesting early history. He first appeared in Kirby's Dream Land for the Game Boy in 1992 and then a year later he had Kirby's Adventure for the NES. Now it's odd for a character to get on the Game Boy before the NES, but it was also pretty odd that he went to the NES in the first place. At that point the NES was nearly a dead system as the SNES has been out for two years already. After Kirby's Adventure he came back to the Game Boy for Kirby's Dream Land 2. I thought I should at least familiarize myself with Kirby's Adventure before reviewing Dream Land 2 so I checked out some reviews and Let's Plays of it and to my surprise it was awfully similar to a Game Boy Advance game I had been playing, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, because little did I know but Nightmare was just a remake of Kirby's Adventure. So since I don't have an NES right now, let's take a look at this game before Dream Land 2, just in the interest of staying in order, more or less.

So the story of this game is that King Dedede is once again threatening Dream Land and Kirby must fight his way through the various enemies and bosses until finally taking down Dedede. Unlike Kirby's first game this one allows you to copy abilities of certain enemies you swallow. Most people seem to enjoy the sword power the most, but I think my favorite is Freeze, which creates an ice shield around you that freezes any enemies that touch it. There is another similar power, Ice, which does the same thing but forward as ice breath, but I find Freeze a bit easier to use. Once an enemy is frozen it can be hit towards another enemy which I always find satisfying. The game has an overworld map screen which allows you to replay previous levels, which is good because there are a few hidden secrets like switches that allow you to access bonus games. I never got all that much personally out of the mini games, but a lot of people seem to love them. From what I understand the only difference between Nightmare in Dream Land and Adventure, besides a few different mini games and the updated graphics, is that after you beat the game on hard you can play through as Kirby villain Meta Knight, although I have yet to unlock that.

This game is an absolute blast. This is where the winning Kirby formula really takes shape. While the game can be a bit too easy at times, experimenting with different powers as well as an overall charm of the game design more than make up for it. Also a bit a of nitpick, but I wish they would have called this like Kirby's Adventure Advance or something, giving it a completely different name is a bit confusing to someone new to the franchise. But like I said, that's a bit of a minor nitpick, all and all there really isn't much to complain about with this game. Also of note, apparently Kirby doesn't have an agry look on his face for the box art in Japan, that was changed for the Western audience. I like the angry look myself, it's a cool little contrast for such a cute harmless looking character to have a look on his face like "I'll fuck your shit up."

I never really played Kirby's Adventure, except for a little bit as a kid, but from what I saw in Let's Plays you should probably just skip it and play this version instead. Unless of course you're a purist who must play the original, which I can respect, but even then I would check out this version afterwards. I give this game a solid 5 pink puffball monsters out of 5.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Bechtloff's Podcast: Episode 7

Episode 7 of my podcast is up. I talk about Benghazi, why Arrow is a better show than Agents of SHIELD, and why Kirby games are awesome. Check it out here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thank you Pope Francis for reminding me why I'm not Catholic.

I didn't grow up in any kind of church and came to faith as a young man and basically I'm of a Protestant bent in my beliefs. Not any particular denomination, just sort of a general Evangelical I suppose (minus the Churchianity nonsense infecting modern Evangelicalism). But even I admit that despite my issues with Catholic theology, there are a number of things about Catholicism I admire. I find many of their rituals absolutely beautiful, and many of my favorite political thinkers of the libertarian/alternative right are Catholics. But I was recently reminded why I could never call myself a Catholic.

It seems that Pope Francis has tipped his progressive/socialist hand yet again, calling for more "legitimate income redistribution" throughout the world. Now, the idiotic statements of this old man do not in and of themselves disqualify Catholicism in my mind, after all as I've pointed out before, Evangelicalism is certainly full of some rather questionable leaders. But what really points out why I can't be a Catholic is demonstrated in some of the mental gymnastics conservative and libertarian Catholics have had to do to defend this man's idiocy. And there in lies my biggest issue with Catholicism, it places its faith not just in God, but in a man and in an office. When one of the leaders of Evangelical culture says something stupid, I don't have to have a crisis of faith the way some Catholics are over this Pope. Because that person is just a man. A fallible fallen man. For all its faults Evangelical culture doesn't claim that any of our leaders act as the voice of God, and therefore we don't have to worry about our faith being shaken because an old man in Italy said some evil and stupid things.

For all the things I admire about the Catholic Church, I can't overlook that to me it seems like the way they regard a fallible man in the Vatican crosses the line from faith into the realm of superstition.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Separating the Game Boys from the Men: Kirby's Dream Land

I never really played Kirby as a kid, I knew of him sure, and I have vague memories of playing the NES game at a friends house, but that's about it. But since I started looking at Game Boy games I decided to dive into Kirby, playing a few of his games, and I gotta say, this is a pretty cool game series. Oddly enough Kirby started on the Game Boy and then went to the NES, sort of the opposite of many other Nintendo franchises around the time.

The story of the game is that Kirby lives in Dream Land and the evil King Dedede and his gang of monsters have stolen all of Dream Land's food and treasure and Kirby must get it back. King Dedede's name always makes me think of that Carlos Mencia catch phrase where he made the retard noise "de de de!". Anyways Kirby can suck up enemies, spit them back out, suck up air and puff up to fly, and spit a puff of air out when he's puffed up. He can't absorb enemies powers like he can in later games though.

This game suffers from a problem I like to call "First-game-itis" for lack of a better term. This seemed to be a pretty common problem for game series during the cartridge era. This isn't a bad game, it just clearly hasn't really gotten it's formula down yet. But this is pretty common, it seemed like these sorts of games had to work out some kinks after the first game. Super Mario 1 is a decent game, but it doesn't hold a candle to its predecessors Super Mario 3 or Mario World. Likewise Sonic 1 is a pretty solid game, but it's certainly no Sonic 2 or Sonic 3. I mean they hadn't even gotten Kirby's color settled in this game. If you've never played any of the Kirby games, I would say definitely give them a shot, but if you're going to play this one play it first, because it will only be a let down after playing some of the little puff ball's other games.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review of the Week: Deadpool vs Carnage #3

If you haven't already check out my reviews of issues 1 and 2. So in this issue Deadpool and Carnage fight some more before Carnage gets away by kidnapping a family and making them drive off. Deadpool manages to catch up with him at the secret military base where the symbiote commandos from the Carnage USA mini were. Carnage had killed them all except for the dog then when Deadpool catches up with him he chops Deadpool into many pieces. But the four symbiotes from the dead Commandos attach to Deadpool ready to help him.

This series continues to be just great. I realize the short plot synopsis makes it seem like not much happened, and in some respects not much did, but there were so many great character moments, especially when Deadpool started telling Carnage how chaos is an illusion and everything has order and boy did that get under Carnage's skin. This is just a fantastic series and the writer clearly gets both these characters. If you're not reading it you're wrong.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Bechtloff's Podcast: Episode 6

So Episode 6 of my podcast is up, no guests this week, just flying solo. I talk about what can be done to try and get some red pill into geek culture and into the church, my thoughts on the movie Frozen, and why Obama's misbehavior can, at least in part, be blamed on Gerald Ford. Check it out here.

Free Comic Book Day 2014: New 52: Futures End #0

So I hope everybody had a good Free Comic Book Day, I know I did. But I gotta say, it seems like the bigger publishers really don't put as much into it as they should. I mean I get only doing one new book but why not more reprints as well? Anyways I only got a few books, a Sonic/Mega Man X flip book, Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy, a Street Fighter book Udon had put out and of course this, New 52:Futures End which it the only one I've had a chance to read so far. The basic story here is that in the future Brother Eye is going all Borg on us and assimilating everyone and Batman Beyond gets sent back in time to stop this from happening. To the books credit there were a lot of really horrifying visuals in this issue, the artist really did a good job of showing this for the nightmarish scenario that it is. A few things bugged me though, like when John Stewart gets assimilated, I have a hard time imagining that the Green Lantern ring can't protect against it, or at the very least wouldn't abandon him and fly back to OA once he's assimilated. Also let's face facts this is nothing we haven't seen before, it's basically just the Borg but with a more "Return of the Living Dead" visual flare to it. Still it's not bad and if it was happening in the Pre-Flashpoint DCU I would probably be pretty excited to see where they were going with this, but it's just so hard to muster up much of a fuck to give about the New 52 abortion. But like I said definitely not bad and I might check out issue one this upcoming Wednesday.