Connect with us

Video Games & Technology

As DC fans will now tell you, it’s always darkest before the “Dawn of Justice”

Published

on

Listen to the Article

Superheroes aren’t the feel-good characters they used to be.

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

In recent years, many of the superhero films have taken a dark and somber turn. Blame it on the success of the “Dark Knight” trilogy but the truth is rooted in comic book tradition. Long-time comic book fans know that there have been graphic novels featuring characters from both Marvel and DC that have dealt with serious issues for decades. Racism, cancer, addiction, suicide and even rape has been tackled by one or more of the biggest heroes over the past few generations.

Copyright 2016 Marvel. All rights reserved

Some of these stories are only now being told in live action and animated form. This is not a bad thing. Casual fans are now beginning to see the real appeal of these 2D heroes. They can now see the elements that makes fans keep coming back month after month. Well written heroes and villains are complex, multifaceted beings. In some cases, there is no ultimate good or evil but simply characters trying to survive as best they can. In many cases they try to do the right thing even when everyone else thinks they are in the wrong.

Copyright 2016 Marvel. All rights reserved

When a film is done right (see “Captain America: Civil War”) then audiences understand why heroes sometimes have to fight against each other. When a film is done wrong (see “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), then audiences are often left confused. The good-guy-versus-good-guy trend in those movies has been a long time coming. People that read comics and even play video games are ahead of the pop culture curve. They know when a battle is brewing years before Hollywood gets in on the act.

Copyright Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. All rights reserved

For example, did you know that Superman has been written and presented as a villain in a few stories? Most recently he was the villain in the video game, “Injustice: Gods Among Us.” The game was released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in 2013. The Superman in that game was a far cry from the boy scout character featured in the 1941 Fleischer Studios cartoons, when he debuted in animated form. The modern Superman was willing to do things in that game that would send shivers down your spine.

Copyright Warners Bros. Interactive Entertainment. All rights reserved

Superman was a sympathetic villain. While battling Lex Luthor and several other super-powered beings, Metropolis was destroyed and thousands — if not millions —  died. Superman had been pushed beyond the breaking point by the Joker. He had been tricked into killing Lois Lane and his unborn son. Superman wanted to prevent the tragedy from happening again so he established a totalitarian government. Batman recruited a team to help him stop the Kryptonian.

Copyright DC Comics. All rights reserved

“Injustice: Gods Among Us.” was very dark and violent. It told the story that the film “Dawn of Justice” failed to frame properly. It stood to reason, the game was directed by Ed Boon. He was one of the creators behind Mortal Kombat, one of the most popular arcade and console franchises of the ’90s. It sold millions of units over the decade. Ed Boon, and John Tobias created a dark and twisted dystopian world filled with heroes and villains that fought for survival. The template they laid out worked perfectly for a game where good guys and bad guys had to fight their peers.

Copyright Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. All rights reserved

“Injustice” was developed by NetherRealm Studios, the company that had produced the last few Mortal Kombat games. The game sold over 400,000 copies in its first month of release, won several awards and had made Warner Bros. untold millions over the past few years.

Copyright Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. All rights reserved

This week Sony announced the sequel, “Injustice 2,” as an exclusive for the Playstation 4 home console. They did this by way of a teaser trailer that features the heroes fighting against each other. New game mechanics are unveiled, where the founding members of the Justice League now have power armor similar to Iron Man. It would explain how human characters are able to survive a punch from Superman or the other super-powered beings. The trailer did have returning heroes including Batman, Aquaman and the Flash and introduced us to Supergirl as well. The versions of the Flash and Supergirl in this game are a far cry from the warm personalities featured on the television shows.

Copyright Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. All rights reserved

This game, just like the previous, is not for everyone. Expect it to get a T-Teen rating from the ESRB, the rough equivalent of a PG-13 rating for movie goers. It is certainly is not meant for young children. The subject matter is far too dark and severe for most casual fans. Many of you might be wondering what the appeal of dark versions of the classic DC heroes is. I would recommend viewing one or more of the recent animated features from Warner Bros, see “Justice League: Gods and Monsters” (2015), “The Flashpoint Paradox” (2013) and “Crisis on Two Earths” (2010).

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

These were based on or inspired by story arcs from recent years. To be fair, just about every animated release Warner Bros. has created is exceptional. The live action features from Warner Bros. may be struggling compared to the stream of hits from Marvel but in animated form the opposite is true. The studio created a following with the “Batman Animated Series” in the early ’90s. Artist Bruce Timm and writer Paul Dini were responsible for most of the successful shows. They had an eye for great storytelling and great character designs; including some rarely-seen retro characters.

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

Their follow-up the “Superman Animated Series,” “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited” set the bar for superhero cartoons. Kevin Conroy did the voice of Batman and Mark Hamill did the voice of the Joker. The two would reprise their roles in many different television and direct-to-DVD features over the next two decades. When the studio went into direct-to-DVD releases they were able to do things that they couldn’t get away with on network television.

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

Audiences will have to put up with dark and serious superhero films and games for the next few years. The highly anticipated “Suicide Squad,” which is all about the bad guys fighting other bad guys is slated for an August 5 release. “Injustice 2” will come out sometime in 2017.

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

The good news is that not every comic book game or movie has to be dark and serious. Audiences that are getting burned out on the heavy comic book movies might want to check out “Justice League: The New Frontier.” The DVD came out in 2008 and was based on the 6-issue series released in 2004. The story was written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke. He won an Eisner, Harvey and Schuster Award for his work, cementing his status among the comic book immortals. The film was set in the post-modern era, the birth of the atomic age and the end of the Golden Age for heroes. The story featured the DC icons the way you want to remember them. Shining examples of what we should strive to be, never brooding or cynical. Practically the opposite of everything in theaters and game screens these days.

Copyright DC Comics. All rights reserved

The title of the story was based on the famous speech that John F. Kennedy delivered while accepting his 1960 DNC Nomination. Hollywood could have learned a thing or two from Darwyn on telling a positive story featuring Batman and Superman. I only wish that he had lived long enough to give us a story inspired by Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech. Mr. Cooke passed away less than a month ago, May 14, 2016. He was 54-years-old. I hope you get a chance to read his stories, now available on Trade Paperback form or catch up on some comic book films or animated features. As for myself, I hope to get some hands-on time with “Injustice 2” if Warner Bros. shows it at the E3 Expo next week. Until then what are your favorite comic book films or games?

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Video Games & Technology

“Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion” game coming this summer

Published

on

Adventure Time Pirates of the Enchiridion

“C’mon on, grab your friends … ” A new Adventure Time game is coming out across multiple platforms.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

In this open world game, Finn and Jake will be sailing on a raft (Named Jeff) through the flooded land of Ooo to solve the mystery of why water engulfed their home and to help others & get in hijinks along the way. With a ragtag gang of friends (From a vampire, to an Ice King, to a little robot) Finn and Jake will travel from the melting Ice Kingdom to the Fire Kingdom and fight in turn-based combat like an RPG.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

The trailer shows off some absolutely gorgeous character models and environments. I’m particularly enchanted by the gorgeous Candy Kingdom that’s briefly shown in this footage. The art design sticks close to the show, but brings with it a soft, sweet design rarely seen in adventure games. Which is a refreshing thing to bring to the table. Likewise, it’s a joy to see the characters translate to 3D so well. Outright Games has done some fantastic work here with their art design.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

Likewise, the voice cast for the show will be reprising their roles as characters in the land of Ooo. And they’ll have a lot of lines to record. Not only can you control Finn and Jake, but you’ll be able to play as BMO and Marceline as well. You can upgrade these characters to unlock unique abilities for combat and the map holds plenty of fun mysteries too. With side stories and secret locations, this seems like a game that’ll have hours & hours of fun.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

What strikes me particularly about this game is how much it resembles Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. This is no coincidence. Adventure Time have a history of being direct corollaries to Legend of Zelda games. “Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!” ‘s gameplay references “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” and “Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom” has the same top down look & combat stylings as “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” With this in mind, it’s absolutely delightful to see a Wind Waker homage with a series like this. Wind Waker was a gamechanger for the Legend of Zelda series, and it feels like “Pirates of the Enchiridion” will be a gamechanger for the Adventure Time games.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

‘Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion’ will be out July 17th for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. 

Continue Reading

Video Games & Technology

Do you like treasure hunting and/or cooking soup? Then Pokemon Quest is the game for you

Published

on

Pokemon Quest

Immediately after the Pokemon press conference on May 29th, the mobile-switch cross platform game Pokemon Quest was available to download on the Nintendo eShop (with the mobile device version debuting later this month). Curious about the ‘Free-to-Start’ game, I snagged a download and started playing.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

Pokemon Quest is a game that feels best letting itself auto-run. You check in several times a day to see what Pokemon have appeared at your camp (The conceit behind this game is that you’re a treasure hunter & Pokemon flock to you to fight their brethren in your honor. They also sometimes just come by because you make really good soup. What can I say?). With the Pokemon at your disposal, you build a small exploration team much in the same style as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game series. And you then set them out to fight other Pokemon in open levels. From these battles, you win power stones (which allow you to upgrade your Pokemon’s health & attack power), and ingredients to lure other Pokemon to your camp.

You may’ve taken notice use of the term ‘Free-to-Start’ earlier in this article. That’s because — like many mobile services — this game offers add-ons for purchase. I don’t see any age limit on the Nintendo Switch version to take away ads for purchases (which many mobile games have chosen to add. See Disney’s own ‘Disney Crossy Road’) but the Pokemon Company may be expecting parents to set their own controls over the switch with the parental controls available on the system.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

Still, the game is typical in mobile game fare for trying to wring money out of players. Energy to play the game costs P tickets, which you can earn 50 a day … or you can just buy. The game gives you an amount to start with, shows you how to use them to speed up your game, and then takes you to the shop where you can see an advertisement to buy it — along with Pokemon furniture to help your team.

These packages can go up to $30 and include Pokemon in-game items & exclusive furniture. And while Pokemon Go offered items in bundles like this, it’s still odd to see in a Pokemon game — let alone a Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch (albeit, this is a cross-platform game). The game itself doesn’t seem to have any sort of hard-pay line for gameplay, though. I’m up to the fifth world in my game without making any purchases. And while the game difficulty has dramatically ramped up, likely to encourage purchases, it’s still completely manageable to play without paying.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

In that sense, for a free game, it’s really cute & enjoyable. The graphics are pleasing and colorful. And if you return to camp, you’ll find all the Pokemon you’ve befriended hopping around adorable decorations. Sometimes stacking on top of each other, other times following each other around in what seems like games of tag.

The ‘cooking’ mechanic to encounter a random Pokemon makes encountering them feel less like gambling and more like strategy. By cooking certain recipes from materials you find on missions, you can draw certain types of Pokemon to your camp. Cooking in certain pots (unlocked by playing through the game) can draw higher powered Pokemon at the cost of more materials. And waiting while your energy fills up means running out of ingredients (At the point of the game I’m at, about half-way through) doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

All in all, I’d say, if you have access to this game, check it out and see if it’s for you. There doesn’t seem to be cross platform support for other Pokemon games. But as a standalone, it’s a cute, fun blip of a game. The hard ‘end’ of the levels within surprises me, especially since it seems to end with 150 Pokemon (out of the over eight hundred available). So I’m not sure what there is to get out of it when you get to the end level outside of getting every Pokemon. But it’s still a fun, very casual strategy game. Just keep an eye on purchases if your children decide to play. 

Continue Reading

Video Games & Technology

“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” & “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” to come to the Nintendo Switch this year

Published

on

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu

During a conference in Japan earlier this week, the Pokemon Company revealed three new games : A mobile and Nintendo Switch cross platform game, “Pokemon Quest,” with graphics similar to Crossy Road and some absolutely adorable furniture in a “free to start” format; and for the Nintendo Switch, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !”

Taking inspiration from gameplay styles from the popular “Pokemon Go” for mobile devices, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !’ adopts the thrown Pokeball system. By using one controller with the Switch system, you can make a tossing motion to throw a Pokeball and capture a cute critter for your team.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

Additionally, you can buy the “Pokeball Plus” accessory to act as an additional “Joy-con” controller for your Switch to capture Pokemon. Then load a Pokemon into your pokeball, and take it out on the go.

From there, with the accessory, you’ll be able to interact with the Pokemon you have inside. Although current information doesn’t offer whether we’ll have more options than putting Eevee or Pikachu in the Pokeball Plus, the footage seen in the linked trailer is absolutely adorable.

The game itself seems to be a remake of Pokemon Yellow, a game released twenty years ago for the Game Boy Color. You explore the Kanto Pokemon region, and seem to be limited to the 150 Pokemon available when that game was out (Well, 151, if you were lucky, or good at exploiting glitches). But these games ditch the random encounters of mainline Pokemon games and adopt the overworld encounters of Pokemon Go. What Pokemon you see on the overworld is what you get.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

Additionally, Pokemon can follow you around and you can ride some of them. In footage, we see a trainer riding a giant Onyx (i.e., a giant snake made out of rocks. Who wouldn’t be comfortable riding on that?) and followed by a starting Pokemon, Bulbasaur. Although in these two games, you start instead with the series mascot Pikachu, and the evolution Pokemon Eevee, which can evolve into several different pokemon. You can also put little outfits on them. Which is – frankly — incredible.

Likewise, this seems to have local multiplayer. Hand the left Joy-con to a friend and let them enter your game. Or if you’re feeling really lonely, put the left Joy-con in your hand and pretend you have a friend while controlling the new trainer that arrives. What a fun time!

You and your friend can then team up to capture Pokemon together, or go exploring together- And you can have Pokemon you capture in Pokemon Go (of the original 151 Pokemon) arrive in your game. You can also send “Presents” back to your Pokemon Go game, including a possible new form of Pokemon as the trailer discusses.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” will be arriving on the Nintendo Switch this November. Likewise, a new Pokemon game will be released in the second Half of 2019. With a Mario movie in development and theme park additions on the way, it’s sure to be a busy year for Nintendo. 

Continue Reading

Trending