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About Count_Zero

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    Forum Dweller
  • Birthday 02/03/1985

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    Playstation 3
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    Nintendo Entertainment System

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  • Playing Right Now
    Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 and Madden 10.
  • Video Games Favorites
    The Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star series, as well as Shumps in general.

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  1. We find some of the survivors from the Turian Arc, and help tag some of their debris, so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  2. I don’t know if you know this, but I like tabletop RPGs. I really like tabletop RPGs. So, when I learned of the massive amount of scholarship going around RPGs and the history thereof, I got really excited. Though not the first book on the topic that I picked up (that being Of Dice And Men, which I reviewed in the fourth issue of my fanzine) this is one of the first, and one that warrants some discussion. Empire of the Imagination is a biography of E. Gary Gygax – co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons along with Dave Arneson. There are two competing documentaries on Gary in the works, but as none of those have been completed yet, this is our first real look at Gary as a person and his life story. I’m not going to recap the book itself, but instead get into the presentation. The book is set up in a series of chunks, going through Gary’s life from his childhood in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where TSR was founded and GenCon was originally based, to his death. In-between sections, there are interludes semi-fictionalizing aspects of Gary’s life in the style of a fantasy epic – which are in turn covered in more serious and grounded detail in the following section. Having never had the opportunity to meet Gary, the book gave a very good portrait of Gygax as a person and as a creator, keeping the focus entirely on Gary. When it comes to Gary’s creative output, the book focuses on his time at TSR, both in terms of game books, novels (the Gord the Rogue series), and attempts to get a Dungeons & Dragons film started, to be directed by John Boorman and starring Orson Welles. In particular, the book gives a whole bunch of attention to the books Gary read that lead him to create D&D. Also, the book gets into the early sessions Gary ran as he was creating the game, with the sessions in the Castle Greyhawk campaign, both for some of what would become the first employees of TSR, as well as some of Gary’s kids. However, after Gary’s forced departure from the company he founded, the biography moves more into more broad strokes. It gives me the impression that author Michael Witwer felt that the part readers care the most about is the material leading up to D&D, and Gary’s ouster from TSR, and nobody cares after that. That’s kind of frustrating for me, because that is the part I want to hear about the most, because aside from the games Gary ran for his friends and family before D&D became popular, that’s the part that’s told the least. I did enjoy this book, and I’d definitely say that this was a story that bore telling, but there were little chunks of it that I wish got more attention. Empire of Imagination is available in Kindle, hardcover, paperback, and audiobook editions from Filed under: Books, Role Playing Games Tagged: biography, book review, non-fiction, Role Playing Games
  3. Coming a few months after the first installment of Tales of the Jedi, we get an episodic, more comedic Star Wars comic, focusing on the comic relief of the original trilogy – R2-D2 and C3-P0. Writer: Dan Thorsland Art: Bill Hughes and Andy Mushynsky Lettering: Bill Pearson Colors: Pamela Rambo Covers: Cam Kennedy (#1), Kilian Plunkett (#2-6) Publication Dates: April 1st, 1994 to September 1st, 1994 This is available from either on it’s own, or as part of the Droids Omnibus (Kindle/Comixology, Print) Plot Notes Approximately 5 years prior to the Battle of Yavin, R2-D2 and C-3P0 are part of the household of Baron Pitareeze, a starship designer on planet Kalarba. The comic goes through a series of episodic adventures following the two droids as they go through various adventures as part of the household – or in a few cases on their own. These stories often involve Olag Greck as an antagonist. His schemes are normally one-offs, introduced and wrapped up within a single issue, with Greck or the other antagonist, ending the issue on some variation of: Worldbuilding We have our first appearance of assassin droids outside of IG-88, and we learn that non-assassin droids can be re-programmed into being assassin droids, and that the droids will have knowledge of their old programming and may resent this re-programming (as is the case of C-3PX) Characterization C-3P0 and R2-D2: Captain Antilles (their master as of the start of A New Hope), is not their first master. For an unspecified period of time, they were in the household of Baron Pitareeze. Other Notes Of the Dark Horse Star Wars comics I’ve covered thus far, this is the first comic that really feels like a comic that is aimed for kids – Dark Empire is more serious and gritty, aimed for older teens, and Tales of the Jedi is aimed at a PG-13 level. This, on the other hand, works as a story that can be read by kids, but without talking down to them. Final Thoughts This is a fun, short, episodic series. It’s not trying to tell a big epic story, it’s not trying to make a big spectacle, it’s just a bunch of fun little one-offs, and that works – and (unlike the YA novel series which I’m skipping because nobody considers it canon), it isn’t contradicting any events of the films (like Luke keeping Dagobah a secret, or the Emperor inexplicably having a three-eyed son). When I return to the EU, I’ll be seeing how Han proposed to Leia in The Courtship of Princess Leia. Filed under: comics, Star Wars Tagged: comics, Star Wars, Star Wars Expanded Universe
  4. Several Angara researchers got locked in stasis while examining some Remnant ruins – we need to get them out. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  5. We head next to the other Angara world, Havarl, to see what we can do to help. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  6. This time I’m taking a look at another out-print anime, in the wake of Lodoss getting license rescued by Funimation, in Armored Trooper VOTOMS. Oh, and if you want to pre-order Lodoss in the wake of its license rescue, it’s available from Amazon & RightStuf Please support my Patreon at Member of The Console Xplosion Network: Watch my Live-Streams on Filed under: Anime Tagged: Anime, anime review, license rescue please, mecha, out-of-print
  7. We’re returning to Voeld to continue our search for the Asari Arc. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  8. We finish off the Kett base, and Eos. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  9. In the original Mission: Impossible television series, one of the recurring antagonists outside of the Not-Soviets was the Syndicate, a mysterious criminal organization that was something of a mix of the Mafia and SPECTRE. In the conclusion of Ghost Protocol (which I previously reviewed), Ethan was sent on new mission, to take on the Syndicate. In this film, we finally get that confrontation. So, as is par for the course for the Mission Impossible series, with perhaps the sole exception of Mission: Impossible II, once again Ethan Hunt is on the run while trying to hunt down a sinister organization. The IMF has been dissolved due to the events of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and while Hunt is in the middle of hunting down the Syndicate. Hunt is, as per usual, on the run from the CIA, while also trying to bring down the Syndicate. On the course of the mission, once again he brings on Benji (Simon Pegg), with Brandt (Jeremy Renner) bringing Luther (Ving Rhames) onboard as well. In addition, Ethan has to figure out the loyalties of a spy within the Syndicate – Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). After the last film was a straight up save-the-world plot, Rogue Nation’s premise is a much more grounded spy story, one which has a lot of callbacks to earlier films, both in terms of bringing Luther back in a more prominent role, as well as call-backs to earlier films both in terms of set-pieces and plot points, complete with the McGuffin basically being a list, though of a different kind of list. With the exception of the opening action sequence, which was featured prominently in the trailers and featured Tom Cruise hanging from the door of a plane, the film’s action sequences are generally very grounded. The series is by no means going full Bourne, but it does narratively fit better with the concepts of the franchise. It’s still not quite as low-body count as series itself tended to be (the fundamental premise of the series was that IMF teams were able to get in, get out, and accomplish their mission without firing a shot). The scenes are incredibly well staged, and the writing has some great moments of humor. In particular, Cruise and Pegg have tremendous on-screen chemistry, with Pegg really bringing out Cruise’s strengths as an actor, and helping to humanize the character of Ethan Hunt. While the film’s female cast is rather small, Ferguson, as Ilsa, has some great character material, and the relationship between Ilsa and Ethan stays on the professional/friendly level. Further, she, not Ethan, gets the big fight with the film’s heavy, and she’s generally written as someone who can absolutely work at the same level as Ethan and his team. In all, I really enjoyed this film – the Mission Impossible series definitely appears to still be going strong, and I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Streaming from Filed under: film Tagged: film, Film Review, Mission Impossible
  10. Going into this film, it’s important to note that this is a Ninja film released in the early-to-mid 1980s (depending on how you look at it), from Cannon films, and starring Sho Kosugi. That, out of the gate, implies a certain level of camp to the film. That said, Cannon films operates at a couple different levels – fun dumb, and then just dumb. So, the question then becomes which kind of dumb is this film? The premise of Ninja III is that the mysterious “Black Ninja” (played by David Chung) murders a business tycoon, who is probably up to some shady dealings, and then is gunned down with an almost Robocop-esque level of overkill by a bunch of police officers while attempting to make his escape. This shooting is somewhat witnessed by Telephone line person and Christie (played by Lucinda Dickey – star of other Cannon films like Breakin’ and Breakin’ II), who also comes across the sword of the dead ninja, and brings it home. However, that sword is now possessed by the spirit of the Black Ninja, and whenever she sees one of the cops who killed him, the ninja takes control of Christie, and using the ninja arts, she goes and kills the relevant cops. Meanwhile, Christie’s police officer boyfriend, Billy, played by Jordan Bennett, has noticed that his girlfriend has started developing mysterious bruises that she can’t explain, and is worried about her. Finally, there is Yamada, played by Sho Kosugi, a ninja who has come from Japan to put the Black Ninja’s spirit to rest. So, the film is a martial arts slasher horror film, which is already unique by being a martial arts slasher film, and it ads another interesting step to the mix by having the killer be female (which is also incredibly rare, with the few examples that I’m aware of being the Sleepaway Camp films and the first Friday the 13th film). The film takes things up a notch by being very overt that Christie is being possessed, through very vivid dream-sequences whenever the ninja takes control of her. The sword floats throughout the room, the environment of the room changes. It’s a very impressively done bunch of images, considering the notoriously low budgets that Cannon Films directors ended up running into. In general, these scenes reminds me of some of the ninja OVAs that came out in the late ’80s, to such a degree that I get the impression that these would work better animated than in live-action – again, especially considering Golan-Globus’ notoriously low budgets. In live action they’re interesting, but still, in spite of the best efforts of everyone involved, unintentionally comical. This leads to the film’s cast. I’d say that Dickey is playing against type, but with her relatively short career, I’d say she never really developed a type. Still, considering her background as a dancer, and her previous role in Breakin’ was as a dancer, it’s important to note that a significant part of this role does not involve any dance at all. While Christie’s character is predominantly a take on the lead from Flashdance, she spends the majority of the film doing ninja stuff. Further, no female stunt performers are credited in the film, and while she’s in ninja garb, the build appears to match her, so it appears that she did her own stunts, which is very impressive. On the other hand, Sho Kosugi is much more of a supporting player in the film. While his role is significant (and as “Only a ninja can kill a ninja”, he gets the finishing blow on the villain), he only shows up in the film’s second half, feeling like Kosugi’s growing popularity meant that they could only afford him for half the film, or that he wasn’t available due to his shooting schedule for the TV series The Master, which was edited into the Master Ninja series of films. To the credit of writer James R. Silke and director Sam Firstenberg, I feel like they try to give Kosugi some good material, but he doesn’t have enough room to work. Kosugi is generally not a great actor, but good material can do a great job to address an actor’s shortcomings, and when those points come up in this film, it works well. The film is not without some very pronounced flaws. The effects in the film can get pretty dopey. The ADR’d “Japanese” dialog sounds like white people being told to do an impression of a Japanese person, with the words spoken being jibberish. The film also runs into a classic Hollywood casting issue of assuming all Asian people are the same and casting Chinese actor James Hong to play a Japanese Shinto priest. Don’t get me wrong – Hong is an excellent actor and does a great job in the role, but I still had to shake my head when that came up. And finally, there’s Jordan Bennett as Billy, the film’s Final Boy. Bennett has previously had a recurring role on The Waltons in the series final year, and had also previously played Jean Valjean in the original LA run of Le Miz, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at – Le Miz had already won some awards by that time, and the role of Valjean has some significant dramatic and acting weight to it. However, I don’t know if this is a lack of direction, poor writing for the character, a short shooting schedule not allowing for rehearsals and retakes, or Bennett not caring about the part, but his performance is bland. To put it in perspective – Bennett’s character, Billy, is a cop who took part in the shooting that kicks off the film, but not to the degree to the other cops were, firing only a single shot, while everyone else just keeps blasting. He’s an honest cop with integrity, who cares about his girlfriend, and who is very worried about her mysterious injuries that she’s developing. Yet he doesn’t act on his worries. With the final girl in most slasher films, the writers take steps to make us care about them for reasons other than “because slasher audiences are predominantly male (and the studio assumes are hetrosexual because we’re not surveying for that) and the actress is pretty).” Billy and Christie’s relationship doesn’t have enough time, Billy doesn’t get much time on his own as a character to develop (it’s there, but there isn’t much of it), and outside of a few topics he doesn’t get much of an opportunity to emote. I still enjoyed the film, but it was more in the context of the novelty of the work than it’s strengths in the genres that the film itself is a part of. Ninja III: The Domination is available from Filed under: film Tagged: 1980s, Cannon films, film, Film Review
  11. As subterfuge has become less of a viable option, we go for the direct approach. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  12. We try to find the back door into the Kett Stronghold without success. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  13. We continue with the launch of the classic EU with Dark Horse Comics first comic outing – Dark Empire I. Opening Credits: Star Wars Theme from Super Star Wars on the SNES. Closing Credits: Chiptune Cantina Band from Chiptune Inc. – Please support my Patreon at Member of The Console Xplosion Network: Watch my Live-Streams on Filed under: comics, Star Wars, videos Tagged: comics, Dark Horse Comics, Legends of the Force, Star Wars, Star Wars Expanded Universe
  14. We meet the son of an old friend from the first Mass Effect Trilogy, and he points us towards some Kett to kill. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games
  15. It turns out there is a second vault on Eos, though it’s not as big. Filed under: Let's Play Tagged: Let's Play, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Video games