Wednesday, May 21, 2014

TGLVideo Games: "Kid Chameleon"

Kid Chameleon

Originally released on Sega Genesis / Sega Megadrive
Also available on Wii Virtual Console, PC/PS2/PS3/Gamecube/Xbox/360 Sega collections

Plot:"There was a new machine in the arcade that one could walk into and play.
It used holograms to create a reality not our own.
Everybody played it.
But it was a little too real.
The boss escaped, and began capturing kids by defeating them at the game.
This is the story of someone too tough to beat.
Someone known as...

This is the message that greets you in the intro video, and, as a kid in the mid 90's, this got me pumped up! I mean what kid didn't get excited simply going to an arcade, let alone being IN the game! Sure looking back this is one of the corniest intros of all time, but at the time, it was intense. Plus look at the hero! He's the typical 90's badass! When the collar gets popped and the jean legs get rolled up, you just KNOW stuff is about to go down.

Basically this was a 2D platform game, a la Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and possibly hundreds of others. What made this one stand out, however, was that throughout the levels, you could find helmets that granted Kid different power-ups, such as a hockey mask that gave you throwing axes, a skull that turned you into a skull-shooting tank, a knight with higher health, or my personal favorite, the tornado helmet that let you fly around in a little tornado! But more on that later when we talk gameplay.

The other draw of the game was that for its time, it was MASSIVE. I honestly can't even fathom the hours my brother and I would spend playing the game, only to find out years later that we were no farther than halfway through the game! Now there is a glitch/cheat that allows you to teleport to the final boss from level 2, but most versions of the game that you can buy now (Wii, and any Sega Genesis compilation packs) have that patched out. The levels were laid out in a linear fashion, so if you wanted, you could just reach the end of each level and progress that way. But within every level were also teleport pads that would let you skip levels, which honestly STILL took countless hours to reach the end! And keeping in mind that there is no save option, this was a tough game to beat for sure!

Gameplay:As previously mentioned, the game is primarily a 2D platformer. Simple observation showed that the goal was to reach the end of the level and touch the flag (shown here).
But for me and my brother, it was all about finding every secret we could, and skipping as many levels as possible! Each set of levels had different themes, and challenges to overcome. Some would tout a peaceful, green hill or blue sky vibe, while others would place you in a gritty big-city sewer. Some were simple "proceed to the end" levels, and others had you being chased by a GIGANTIC SPIKY WALL OF DEATH THAT YOU COULD NARROWLY AVOID AND ALWAYS HAD TO HAVE YOUR BROTHER BEAT FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU WERE YOUNG AND SUCKED AT VIDEO GAMES!!!!! ....Sorry. I seem to be harboring a bit of pent up aggression towards that level.

The difficulty takes a pretty severe hike after the first few levels, however. And without use of the teleporters I was talking about earlier, there would be several levels that I don't honestly think I could ever have passed. There are bosses for each group of levels as well, including several kingly lions who chase you with magic wants while on their hind legs, and my personal favorite, three skewered bald heads that shoot stuff at you while repeatedly saying "DIE". 
The game does include a pass-the-controller style of 2 player, which is basically just two people playing their own independent single-player modes, but taking turns between levels. That's not to say that it still isn't fun, though!

As with almost all 80s/90s games, the replay value came from the difficulty. Companies back then didn't have the technology to be able to make a game like Skyrim, so to make people play the game longer, they just made it more difficult, and you'd just have to keep practicing and memorizing patterns to get better. This is definitely one of those games, to a point. While much of the progress came from replaying levels, getting to your new personal best, then starting all over again after mom called you for dinner, there was an element of skill and pathfinding to the game as well. Over time, you could find enough hidden teleporters and level skip tricks that eventually you'd be able to beat levels that may have previously confounded you, and to me this is why this game sticks out so much.

Plus, y'know...tornado suit:
I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time here, because after all, this isn't a next-gen, graphics-heavy game. It was a 16-bit Sega gem, so you pretty much know what you're getting off the bat.

That said, the game offered a lot of variety in its levels, and each one had beautiful backgrounds. Enemies were easy to distinguish, and for it being an older game, it wasn't very buggy at all. If you screwed up, it was your fault, not the game.

I'd have to consider myself pretty biased on this one, so instead of a grade I'll say this: The game is around $6 on Wii, and the Sega Genesis collection packs aren't very pricey, and offer a lot of other fantastic games. But if you're lucky enough to still own a Sega, and you see this in a used electronics store or pawn shop, it is definitely worth your money!

Just remember this...
When you see the spikey wall of doom, DON'T STOP RUNNING. Or have a brother who is good at it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

TGLComics: The Crow

"I am he who can dissolve the terror of being a man and going among the dead.
I am morphine for a wooden leg."
-Eric Draven / The Crow
The Crow
Created by James O'Barr

Many of you are probably familiar at least with the existence of the movie adaptation. If not, check out my review! For those of you who aren't familiar with this comic series, here's a quick run-down.

In 1978, creator James O'Barr suffered a terrible loss when his fiancee was struck and killed by a drunk driver. His response to this event was to join the Marines, and while being stationed overseas, he began working on "The Crow" to assist himself in dealing with what happened.

"...There is pure anger on each page." stated O'Barr in an interview several years after the book's initial 1989 release. I have to say, knowing all of this in advance of reading the book makes it that much more powerful. I'm warning you right now, this book is very adult. It is dark, gritty, bloody, and downright hard to read at some parts, but with the events that led to it's conception, it took my breath away that much more.

The story focuses on anti-hero Eric Draven, who along with his fiancee, lives in the run-down, gang ruled city of Detroit, MI. One day, after their car breaks down, a drug-induced gang pulls up along side the couple, and for pure sick pleasure, shoot dead Eric, and proceed to rape and murder his fiancee, Shelly. 

One year later, Eric is raised from the dead by a mystical crow, given the power of invincibility, and tasked simply with getting revenge on the gang that ended the lives of him and his beloved Shelly.

The interesting thing about this book is that, while there are villains, there really is no question of whether or not Eric will succeed in his quest. Early pages of the comic show very clearly that his enemies stand no chance, and he proceeds to dominate them without mercy. This was interesting on its own, as in the movie adaptation, and in typical fiction stories anywhere else, the hero has a trial to overcome, and a final and most often difficult battle to win. In "The Crow" however, Eric has already lost his great trial, and the entire book is simply a very dark tale of revenge.

Fans of Frank Miller's art (Sin City, The Dark Knight, 300) will feel right at home here. The entire book is told in black and white, and primarily features two different art styles. The first is a visible cross-hatching with straight black and white. This is used mainly in all action scenes, and probably about 80% of the entire book.

The second style is very similar, except with more of a flowy, almost watercolor approach. More grays and midtones are present, and details are much more real than that of the majority of the book. This style is mainly used for flashbacks, and dream sequences, as Eric reflects on his past with Shelly.

I adored the art. It is very clearly illustrated with passion, in a visibly noir style. Some scenes, while maybe not as well illustrated as others, convey the plot, as if the artist were trying to simply get it out of his head as fast as possible. What works so well between these two styles is that with the book being so dark and harsh, the art style keeps the tone consistent. Similarly, when Eric is having his flashbacks of a perfect life with Shelly, the art becomes softer, more detailed, and more comfortable to the eyes.

If you have the chance, know a friend who has it, or can pick it up from a library/used book store, definitely check it out! I don't want to rate this with a 1-10 scale, because I think it'll be different for everyone. I'm blessed enough that I really haven't experienced great loss in my life, but even so, it really hit deep when reading. Those who have shared a similar loss to that of Eric may resonate even more with his feelings of revenge and mercilessness. 

Personally, I found a softcover collection for $5 at Half-Price Books, and I'd say it was worth every penny, and then some. If dark/gritty stories are your thing, this book is a must.


Hi again, faithful readers!

Big news! I'm initiating kind of a grand re-opening of sorts on TGLM, by announcing the creation of That Guy Likes Comics, and Video Games!

With the creation of these two...let's call them "sub-blogs", I'm also planning on releasing at least one blog per week! PLEASE share this blog with all your friends, because if we grow in numbers enough, I'm planning on starting some YouTube video reviews as well!

With that, I'm gonna give you a quick rundown of what to expect from TGLC, and TGLVG!

That Guy Likes Comics:

I've made it no secret on my blog thus far that I'm a pretty big comic book junkie. While I'm not going to say that I've read every single ground-breaking series, I still love to discuss comic books as a whole.
In TGLC, I'll be reviewing graphic novels, single issues, and entire series, both new and old, as I read them. Reviews will analyze art style, writing, readability, length, and other key factors that affect overall enjoyment of comic books! Check back soon, as I'll be kicking off my reviews with James O'Barr's dark 1990's classic, "The Crow".

That Guy Likes Video Games:

Surprise! I like video games too! My poor wife has to listen to me drone on and on about how much I love them every time I play them, and I would love to share these discussions with like-minded people as well. So along with TGLC, check back often for video game reviews as well! Just like with movies and comics, I'll be reviewing anything from Atari and Famicom, to Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and everything in between! Similar to comics, multiple topics will be discussed, including graphics, playability, replayability, whether or not older games still hold up to nowadays, and many more topics! The first game I'll be writing about in the coming weeks will be the Sega Genesis classic "Kid Chameleon"!

I really want to build this into something that is just as fun for you to read as it is for me to write, so I encourage you all to comment or message me with your thoughts, opinions, and even suggestions on what you think I should watch, read, or play!

And of course, the title of the blog will still be "That Guy Likes Movies", and don't expect to see a lack of movie reviews!

So be sure to share with friends, and I hope you enjoy the new additions!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Y'know those movies that are so incredibly bad that they are kind of fun? (See my review of The F.P.)
This isn't one of those movies. This is just...*shudder*

PG (2012)

Charlie Sheen, Wayne Brady, Hillary Duff, Haylie Duff, Eva Longoria, Christopher Lloyd, Chris Kattan, Jerry Stiller

The movie follows the story of Dex Dogtective (Charlie Sheen), an "Ike" (or Icon) who defends the grocery store that he and his friends live in from the evil Brand X, a line of products looking remarkably like Nazis, that are trying to conquer the supermarket.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes, I feel I should discuss the sordid history of this movie. It was originally intended for release in 2002, but partway through production, all of the files for the entire movie mysteriously went missing. But that didn't stop them, hooooo no. They pressed on, and nearly ten years later,"movie" was released. According to IMDb, the movie's overall budget was $65 million, and its in-theater gross was less than $75,000. That's right, the movie made less than .001% of its budget back! 

I originally heard of this movie through a review by JonTron, a guy who does comedic video reviews of (usually terrible) video games and movies. (To watch his review, which I HIGHLY recommend, click HERE. Really though, the guy is a crack-up) Okay fun facts aside, let's dive in.

The Good:

The Bad:
Oh man, you can't just expect me to list it all out. I've gotta categorize this. Let's start with the visuals.

What the hell did they make this with, Gmod?!
The entire movie looks like it was made by a sophomore at a visual arts college. You'll see entire character models used anywhere from twice to fifty times in the same shot, images on the wrong layers, bodies defying anything close to the laws of gravity/physics, hands down the WORST liquid animation you'll ever see, the worst lip syncing since the Super Nintendo, and some of the most terrifying programming glitches this side of Y2k.

Just take a look at this still from the movie, where we see hands-down the most terrifying character I've ever seen who has what I can only classify as a blatantly sexual desire for anything chocolate. I had to rewind and freeze-frame to take this shot, because I honestly thought maybe I was losing my mind. His face just...melts or something! JEEZ! Now I realize that this wasn't made by Pixar or Dreamworks, but honestly even the first Shrek movie puts this to shame, and that came out 11 years prior!!! If this were the first ever animated movie, I could maybe see this as passable, even impressive! But in an era where 3D movies are becoming standard, and people care more for HD or Blu-Ray, this is just...EIW!!!

These people are famous actors. I mean just look at that list at the top again! You've got a massive list of actors who have been in plenty of stuff that didn't suck, whose voicework makes them sound like they're in a gradeschool play! The music and songs sound like they were written by a high school garage band, and at least once per scene, the audio very noticeably doesn't sync to their lips.

If you can't tell, they zoomed in between her legs.
 It stays on this shot for about ten seconds...PG my ass.
You know when you go back and watch movies you loved as a kid, and you start to get all the subtle adult humor that they hide in there for the parents? This movie is packed so full of "subtle adult humor" that I honestly cannot fathom how they pulled a PG rating out of their asses. Let me give you a bit of sample dialogue:
"Woah honey! Nice packaging! How about some chocolate frosting? I'd like to butter your muffin!"
And believe you me, that's just one of the countless examples. Were I a father, I would rather take them to an R-rated movie than this monstrosity. At least the acting might be better...

And not only the dirty stuff, but most of it just doesn't make any type of sense! At one point, the villain gets hit in the head. Before he falls over, like any normal situation would have him do, he goes on a terrifying blab about how he thinks he wet himself, but he likes the feeling...? I can't even count the number of times that my jaw literally dropped open during this movie.

Now I totally understand if you think I'm over exaggerating, I would too. And honestly I have a tendency to do that. But if you don't believe me, the entire movie is available to watch on YouTube right now, for free! Take a look for yourself and tell me I'm lying!

In the past few years, it is becoming the norm for companies to make movies so intentionally horrid that they are meant to be comedic. Movies like "Sharknado", "Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus", "Birdemic", and "The F.P." all make fun of themselves in such a way that you know its satirical. This movie does not belong in their ranks. "FoodFight!" desperately wants to be the next "Shrek". But when the files went missing, they should have let it die, because nobody honestly would have cared.

I'm giving FoodFight! a -3 out of 10.
Yup, its so bad I'm going below zero. Zero is too good for this crap heap.

SERIOUSLY!!! The original Playstation had better cut scenes then this!