Random scribblings by a prick. Enjoy.

Archive for December 2008

Merry Christmas!

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As above people, as above =oD

Written by bitsnark

December 25, 2008 at 7:39 am

Anime Review: Vampire Hunter D (1985)

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Vampire Hunter D

Genre: Vampire Action Horror
Director: Toyoo Ashida
Distributor: Manga Entertainment (UK)/Urban Vision (US)
Duration: One movie – 80 minutes approx
Production Creation: 1985

Plot Synopsis

Thousands of years into the future, technological advancement is abandoned for basic survival as the human population finds itself enslaved to a regime of nihilistic vampires. These cruel undead lords, although dwindling in number, still maintain control over the earth with an iron grip. There is one however, a human-vampire crossbreed, a dunpeal, who dares to stand up against the evil of these immortal tyrants. He is known only as ‘D’, the Vampire Hunter.

The Review

There is a great deal of anime that have maintained a cult status since their original release. The problem with older anime that possess such status, is that it is often undeserving since hindsight is always clouded with fonder memories than the reality can provide.

Vampire Hunter D is no different.

Vampire Hunter D is anime that is as formulaic as it is tiresome. The plot is entirely straightforward and looks like it could have been pulled from any number of cheesy 1970s-1980s B-movies. It focuses around a powerful aristocratic vampire who wishes to marry a woman from a local village. The problem, as you might well guess, is that said woman isn’t particularly enamoured with the idea of marriage to this undead fiend and so, pleads with the mysterious, brooding (perhaps too much so), vampire-human crossbreed ‘D’ to help her out.

Whilst my brief little plot overview is slightly simplified somewhat, it is still largely accurate of the plot that Vampire Hunter D contains and it is this simplification that sums up Vampire Hunter D so nicely. As well as the wafer thin plot, the characters are stereotyped to the point of frustration. You have your typical vampire lord (complete with cruddy European accent and 1960s Dracula esque clothes), brooding hero, damsel in distress and so on and so forth.

Whilst I have nothing against the brooding, stoic hero type, D is just so unbelievably dull and boring that he just sucks the life (excuse the pun), out of whatever appeal the anime had to begin with. If you want a good dose of vampire angst, watch Pioneer’s Hellsing, – it does a far better job. Of particular note though, the only character that I really didn’t mind, bizarrely enough, was a parasite that lives on D’s hand. Like the much newer and much better sequel to this film, the hand has the most character and the best lines out of any character in this anime. As you may have guessed though this is no mean feat, but I digress.

The straightforward no-frill’s nature of this anime doesn’t stop with it’s characters and plot, as the soundtrack, animation and art are awarded the same lackluster treatment. The soundtrack is as dull as it is forgettable while the animation is below average at best, with all the characters shambling around on screen destroying any real sense of decent movement, especially during action scenes. The art too is certainly nothing to write home about, being spectacularly dull on practically every occasion, with the one saving grace perhaps being the reasonable character designs by Yoshitaka Amano. Then we come to the gore and violence, (sigh).

In keeping with it’s B-movie styling, Vampire Hunter D sees fit to chuck silly amounts of gore and blood around. The violence in this anime while certainly obvious and blatant doesn’t help this anime out one bit because it is so contrived and silly, rather than being repulsed at the gore and blood, you’re too busy laughing at it.

Perhaps back in 1985 when it came out it might have been worth a look, but with the tremendous glut of decent vampire anime around such as Vampire Princess Miyu, Hellsing and even Vampire Hunter D’s own sequel Bloodlust, Vampire Hunter D remains only as a morbid curiosity – reminding you that it should left in the past and forgotten.

Ratings Summary

Animation: D-
Art: D+
Music: D-
Content: E

Overall: E

Review by: John-Paul Jones

Suitability for children

Even though the gore and violence is contrived and stupid, it is still unsuitable for the majority of the younger audiences. This is material for ages 15+ only.

If you liked this why not try…

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust – Urban Vision
Vampire Princess Miyu OAV – AnimEigo
Vampire Princess Miyu TV – Tokyopop
Hellsing – Pioneer Entertainment

Written by bitsnark

December 20, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Metal Gear Solid Touch for iPhone a reality…

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Following on from the cryptic viral advertising that appeared on the Konami Official site, many people (and quite rightly) assumed that it was hoting toward a 360 conversion of the PS3 exclusive title. A curve ball has been thrown it seems, as iPhone loving techies across the globe can now rejoice that the advertising has now been revealed to be tied in with the newly announced Metal Gear title for the iPhone.

Going by the rather fitting moniker of Metal Gear Solid Touch, the title contains characters and locations from the PS3 title, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots. Visually, the title looks incredible, with many of the environments and characters easily recognisable from the PS3 title. Gameplay seems to be a little bit of mystery as far as mechanics go, with the only screenshots making the game seem more like a shooter than the typical stealth-em-up fare that we have become used to over the years from the series. It is early days yet, so there’ll probably be more to this than what simply meets the eye.

In addition to this, the title boasts downloadable levels as well as images and wallpapers that can be attained through obtaining points throughout the game.

If you fancy a look at the title, click the link below:

Written by bitsnark

December 17, 2008 at 9:39 am

Anime Review: FLCL

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Genre: Science Fiction Comedy
Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki
Distributor: Synch-Point
Duration: Six episodes, 30 minutes each approx.
Production Creation: 2000

Plot Synopsis

Naota is a Japanese schoolkid, and besides an immature father and grandfather his life isn’t really anything out of the ordinary. He lives in a mundane town, with a river, a bridge, a school and a shopping district. The usual stuff. With the exception that is, of the huge iron-shaped medical supply center that lurks on the town’s outskirts.

Sure it looks neat, but nothing strange ever comes of it. Until today. Naota’s brother who left Japan to play baseball for the U.S left his girlfriend mamimi, behind, who constantly makes advances on Naota, then all of a sudden some whacko girl runs him over with her vespa, clobbers him with a bass guitar and then becomes his housekeeper! And to top things off, robots sprout from the poor boy’s head!

So much for things staying boring…

The Review

FLCL stands as a both unique and a complete insane anime the likes of which I can say with some certainty, I’ve haven’t ever seen before. Apparently an ‘experiment’ by those fertile minds at Gainax to combine traditional cel animation with more modern CG techniques, FLCL is refreshing, visually explosive and not to mention very, very strange.

Let’s see what do we have here; robots popping out of a boy’s head, a girl with a guitar attacking said robots, characters going into ‘manga’ style, a guy with huge twitching eyebrows, the list goes on and on. FLCL isn’t off the wall, it was never on there to begin with. There is some semblance of a plotline with Haurko (the mad Vespa riding alien girl) seemingly concerned with Naota and the fact that he’s more ‘grown up’ than other guys, and also some other subplots with mamami trying to deal with her feelings for Naota and trying to sort her life out. Ultimately it’s a somewhat crazed look at adolescence and how adolescents struggle to find their place in life as they grow up.

My little summary of the plot though may have given it more credit than it deserves as FLCL carries much more significance not as a story, but rather as the piece of experimental animation that it was designed to be. Should I degrade it because it has no real plot or substantial characters? Normally yes, but while it doesn’t satisfy in terms of plot and characterisation, it much more than succeeds as a work that overwhelms the senses with lush visuals and pure adrenaline crazed anime insanity.

Of particular note, is the simply huge amount of references and parodies that can found in FLCL. There’s a veritable slew of crazy comic references to a whole load of things ranging from Gundam and Lupin III (complete with classic mechanised fist crushing a randy Lupin wannabe) to other things too like Manga, John Woo, Nintendo’s Gameboy console, The Matrix and even South Park too. The list is near endless. The persistent intensity that FLCL so readily displays is further highlighted by the constant J-rock and J-pop soundtracks that permate FLCL throughout all of it’s episodes and running time.

Of course the focal point of the production is easily it’s visuals. Rendered using a combination of traditional and CG animation styles, FLCL is colorful, vivid, smooth and simply breathtaking to watch. The visual majesty of FLCL is further complimented by the kaleidoscopic range of styles on offer, heck, even South Park animation ‘style’ is parodied!

FLCL is simply completely nuts. There is absolutely nothing logical about whatever story exists and the events which take place are simply just bizarre and the fact that many of them are unconnected with one another, simply serves to highlight confusion on the part of this reviewer. Then again though, I shouldn’t be judging it on those kinds of criteria because FLCL doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t, and in the process, stomps on every convention of modern anime that you can imagine. FLCL is truly one of a kind.

Just like the earlier Otaku No Video, it seems the Gainax likes to cut loose every once in a while and should always be commended for trying something new. Sure it’s strange, weird and nobody can really claim to understand everything about FLCL, but ostensibly it is one heck of a ride into anime fused insanity that every otaku worth their salt should see. Go on, you know you want to watch it.

Ratings Summary

Animation: A-
Art: A
Music: B
Content: B

Overall: B+

Review by: John-Paul Jones

Suitability for children

There is some non-bloody violence, some sexual themes and alluded sexual encounters but to be honest none of it is really serious to warrant a rating above 12+.

If you liked this why not try…

Otaku No Video – AnimEigo

Written by bitsnark

December 14, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Square Enix announces Dragon Quest X for the Wii

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Following on from the previous megaton announcement that the next installment of Japan’s biggest RPG series, Dragon Quest, would be heading to the NDS, it would seem that old Ninty has scored again, with Dragon Quest X coming to Ninty’s casual darling; the Wii.

In a period of time where Nintendo hardly needs such exclusives (their console sold 800,000 over just thanksgiving alone), the release will further yet increase the already substantial user base that the Wii boasts in Japan.

I’m just happy that the Wii is getting an actual game, and i’m sure people who bought the Wii to actually PLAY games will agree with me on that one.

Stay tuned for more info.

Written by bitsnark

December 10, 2008 at 9:36 am

New Fullmetal Alchemist TV Series due for Japanese Broadcast In April 2009

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With the wildly popular Fullmetal Alchemist’s seemingly finishing it’s anime run with the ‘Conqueror Of Shambala’ movie, fans of the series were chomping at the bit for a sequel or continuation of some description.

Well their prayers may have been answered, with particular emphasis on the ‘may’ as a new Fullmetal Alchemist TV series is due to commence broadcasting in Japan in April, yet it’s not evidently clear at this point if it is a retelling of the original story or a sequel.

AnimeNewsNetwork is currently hosting an article on this as well as a link to a streaming teaser trailer for the new series.

Link below:

Written by bitsnark

December 9, 2008 at 9:08 am

Cryptic flash page on the official Konami site suggest a 360 MGS installment *may* be incoming…

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In the spirit of annoying viral marketing, Konami Productions has updated it’s official site flash page with what appears to be two green exclamation marks, a plus sign and a green ‘power’ logo that doesn’t appear to be totally dissimilar to the one present on the front of the 360 console.

Let the speculation commence…

A port of MGS4? – Possibly – MGS4 took a lot of money to make and Konami Productions (much to the chagrin of series creator Hideo Kojima, said that there was ‘opportunity’ for the title to reach ‘other’ console owners.

MGS 5 – Highly unlikely. While MGS4 might get a 360 conversion, I doubt that the next MGS game will debut on 360 (simultaneously or otherwise with a PS3 version) as development history that Sony has with Konami on the MGS franchise, proves that Sony platforms, are the primary development platform for the franchise.

The original MGS on XBLA – The most likely. Given the fact that the original MGS has itself been mooted for a PSN debut, it’s certainly quite likely that the title would be given a release on XBLA.

As always this is just speculation which is always fun, but I guess we just have to play the waiting game on this one.

Link below:

Written by bitsnark

December 5, 2008 at 11:21 am

Activision-Blizzard Announcements – Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Guitar Hero 5 and New Tony Hawks

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An Activision-Blizzard presentation in New York has apparently yielded (not unexpected) news of future franchise installments for the company.

The sequel to Infinity Ward’s stellar FPS Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare is due next Autumn, with the dev duties belonging to Infinity Ward being the only other concrete detail known about the anticipated title. News of this development shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the alternating development cycles between Infinity Ward and Treyarch on the franchise.

Likewise, details for Guitar Hero 5 were wafer thin with the exception of release date matching that of COD: MW2, Autumn 2009.

The next installment in the beleaguered Tony Hawk’s franchise, rumoured to be entitled Tony Hawks: Adrenaline, aims to reinvigorate the franchise by jumping on the motion gameplay bandwagon through the use of a motion board which will allow player an apparently higher level of control and immersion. Whether or not this will provide a real innovation and fundamental change to the franchise to bring disillusioned players back remains to be seen however. The title is also due in Autumn 2009.

Finally, it was also mentioned that Bizarre Creations of Project Gotham Racing fame, would be developing not one, but two driving games for the company. The first is supposedly described as a cross between ‘Forza and Mario Kart’, whilst the second is a driving game based on the James Bond franchise. No other details regarding these titles are known.

More as and when.

Written by bitsnark

December 4, 2008 at 1:14 pm

PC RPG The Witcher due for 360 & PS3 revamp in Autumn 2009

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The morally barren, yet technically excellent PC RPG The Witcher, is due to see a release on the 360 and PS3 by the end of the next year. After launching to warm reviews praising it’s combat system and dark mature story, The Witcher went on to sell an impressive amount of copies, subsequently spawning an ‘Enhanced’ version of the game which included better performance, tweaks to the combat system and extra quests.

For the Sony and Microsoft machines, The Witcher: Rise Of The White Wolf as the console version will be known, shall encompass a rebuilt graphics engine to better leverage the architectural individualities of those respective platforms and a redone combat engine that I can assume will lend itself more acutely to the console audience.

After seeing this game being played on the PC some months ago, I was very intrigued by it’s combat, dark locations, morally questionable plot lines and characters. Now finally, with a console release, this mature RPG will hopefully reach all the audiences it deserves to.

Written by bitsnark

December 3, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Uncharted sequel now has a name and a teaser trailer

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Confirming what we all pretty much took for granted, Naughty Dog is about to take the wraps off of it’s sequel to the Lara Croft killing Uncharted: Drakes Fortune.

Entitled Uncharted: Among Thieves, the title has been given a teaser trailer (link at the end of this post) which shows our wise-cracking Nathan Fillion lookalike hero wading through deep snow, and looking the worse for wear with a snow-bitten visage, gashes and bruises before picking up a mysterious scepter in the snow and saying ‘I should have quit while I was ahead’.

According to American gaming magazine Game Informer, the sequel follows Drake as he is following the famous voyages of Marco Polo, which hopefully will span the larger world and give us at least one return to the jungle locales that original title did so well.

Gameplay details remain thin on the ground at this point, but while the core gameplay remains the same with all the run ‘n’ gun and platforming action that we enjoyed last time around, this time Game Informer suggests that our hero will be able to free-climb and take part in some ‘stealth gameplay’. Hmmm, the free-climbing could hold some promise, but aren’t we passed just including the obligatory ‘stealth section’ just for the sake of it?

In any event, the title is due to get a full trailer and unveiling on December 14th at 9PM (US time) on the Spike Video Game Awards show – so hopefully we should be able to glean some more info then.

Teaser trailer below:

Written by bitsnark

December 2, 2008 at 9:46 am

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