December 30, 2014

Castle Geek-Skull's Video Game Highlights of 2014

I almost beat Mega Turtle at the end of Level 3!

I couldn't find the time to play everything I wanted, but I definitely had some good times with video games this year. As 2015 looms on the horizon, there's no better occasion to look back on some of the titles I enjoyed the most. Due to what I'm sure must be extremely popular demand, I've compiled 14 of my personal gaming highlights of 2014 below! Let's get to it.

Disclaimer: Forgive me if I leave off something you found amazing; I promise I'm going to get around to catching up!

Mega Man's Final Smash from Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U is pure bliss. I'm a huge fan of the Blue Bomber, so you can imagine how bummed I've been that he hasn't gotten the best treatment in recent years. His inclusion in the latest SSB did a lot to heal those wounds.

December 27, 2014

14 Toys That Made Me Want To Break The Bank In 2014

Nyaaaah? Nyaaaaah!

Despite taking a step back from amassing action figures and other collectibles over the last few years, my interest in the hobby has remained fully intact. While staying away has obvious financial benefits, I just can't help myself from checking out all of the latest releases. There were all sorts of tempting plastic-crack goodies in 2014, so much so that I actually ended up spending some cash. Oops. Let's look at 14 toys that inspired me to do so!

I loved seeing Original Comic Book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures on store shelves this year. They aren't as swanky as the NECA versions from a few years back, but they're more than acceptable for their considerably lower price point. When I spotted this version of Raphael on the pegs of Target last month, I threw my money at it and never looked back.

December 26, 2014

FanArt Frenzy - 14 of My Favorite Pieces of Fan Art From 2014!

2014 Retrospective Edition!

As we prepare to say our goodbyes to 2014, I feel it's the perfect time to dip into the FanArt Frenzy well once more. Below you will find 14 of my absolute favorite illustrations from the year. You're here for pretty pictures, so let's skip the blabber and get right to it!

Three of my favorite Transformers designs: Galvatron, Cyclonus, and Scourge by Golby2

December 25, 2014

Castle Geek-Skull's Santa Hat Party - Christmas 2014

Ahoy there, jolly internet users! Let's celebrate the Christmas season with 25 pictures of iconic pop-culture characters wearing Santa hats! Hit it, Google Image Search!

Santa Doom from What The?! Vol. 1, #10

December 20, 2014

The Only Christmas Video Game I've Ever Played Is Elf Bowling

AHHHHHHHHHH!

Somehow, I've only recently learned that there are a metric ton of Christmas themed video games out there. I'm not even exaggerating. There's even a Christmas Shopping Simulator! Their ubiquitous nature is hardly surprising, but they still managed to fly under my radar aside from one: NStorm's Elf Bowling from 1998.

I'm certain that Elf Bowling is one of those games that just about everyone found themselves sitting in front of at some point or another. I even saw my grandfather playing it at once. I know for sure that I didn't spend too much time with it, but its cartoony graphics and silly voice-overs remain memorable many years later.

December 19, 2014

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, I Bid You Adieu

Not like any other late night show.

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson is coming to an unfortunate end tonight. During its ten years in CBS' 12:30 AM time slot, it's been home to over two thousand episodes of the most refreshingly format-bending programming any late night talk show has ever produced. Even with over half of its run being spent in a rinky-dink closet of a studio where Murphy's Law ran wild, Ferguson's razor-sharp wit and improvisational style made the show a true standout.

Like many, I first took notice of TLLS somewhere between 2006 and 2007 when highlights began hitting Youtube. While there were plenty of amusing sketches to go around, the monologues and interviews are what really piqued my interest. The initial approach was admittedly more traditional, but it became more and more relaxed with time. As Ferguson's confidence in deconstructing the genre grew, worn out standbys like jokes read from monitors and mapped out celebrity chats were long gone. One of the show's most famous trademarks is the shredding of the pre-interview questions as the guests are seated. It's long been clear that this was something special, and I quickly found myself making sure to catch every single episode.

December 15, 2014

Nintendo Amiibo: You Want What You Can't Have

Such cruel temptation.

When Nintendo amiibo were first revealed at E3 2014, I found myself thinking they'd make for a neat shelf display if nothing else. Their game compatibility was of little concern. Even so, I was well into a sabbatical from amassing plastic whozits and whatzits at that point. I still tend to want everything under the sun, but I was certain I'd be able to walk away without much of a fight.

Upon their initial release in late November, I still got a bit of the familiar "these are pretty freakin' cool" tinge that fueled many of my past plastic-crack purchases. The drop in quality from the prototype stage may have been off-putting for some, but I'm more than well-versed in the inevitability of such things. Regardless, my initial tune didn't change. I was happy to leave them behind, figuring that I'd have plenty of time to start up an amiibo collection.

Oh, how things change.

December 13, 2014

Revenge & Noodles: Street Fighter V Is A Great Mix of Intensity & Fun

She has style. She has grace.

As the Capcom Cup 2014 Ultra Street Fighter IV tournament (wherein sixteen of the year's most successful players from the "Capcom Pro Tour" circuit faced off) drew to a close, series producer Yoshinori Ono took the stage to make several announcements. Of note, he mentioned that the Street Fighter V development team has paid close attention to the feedback and analysis generated by the gameplay trailer from last week's PlayStation Experience event. Even so, there were no major confirmations regarding fan-driven topics such as a possible Guard Crush or other features.

Despite not wanting to reveal too much, the event closed with the first publicly played match of Street Fighter V. Popular SF player Mike Ross and Capcom USA's "Combofiend" took control of Ryu and Chun-Li, giving us a solid extended look at the gameplay. Lifebars, EX Meters of varying lengths, and the new Revenge Meter (which likely works similarly to the Ultra Combo Meter from SFIV) were in full display alongside fun new reveals like humorously interactive stage elements. After Ryu knocks Chun-Li into a wall at the end of a round, a bowl of noodles falls onto her head and stays there when the fight picks back up.

You want some screenshots? Have some screenshots:

December 6, 2014

Street Fighter V Gameplay Trailer: There's Something For Everyone

Chun-Li's work-in-progress match intro from Street Fighter V.

Okay, the obvious joke response to the post title is unfortunately "except for Xbox One owners." Let's look beyond that for a second.

Following up the lovingly crafted announcement trailer, Capcom released an extended glimpse at early gameplay from the upcoming Street Fighter V during this weekend's PlayStation Experience event. While there's still a lot of work to be done, the game already shows immense potential. There are glimpses of mechanics both new and old, and the speculation is already in full swing. Check out the video below!

December 5, 2014

Street Fighter V's Announcement Trailer Is A Giant Love Letter

An early look at Ryu from SFV.

In the early hours of December 5, 2014, the announcement trailer for Street Fighter V was leaked early over Youtube and various social media platforms. While there's plenty to talk about regarding the corresponding news, I'm much more taken with the video's composition. There would have been plenty of buzz even over a few seconds of cinematics and a logo, but whomever put this together took a much more involved and loving approach.

While it does contain brief glimpses of new gameplay and availability info, Street Fighter V's announcement trailer shares the spotlight with footage of the franchise's previous titles, fan artists, collectors, cosplayers, and competitive scene. SF might be a household name, but it's still a bit niche in the grand scheme. While I'd love to see it become even bigger, I'm glad to see those in charge of producing and promoting the series putting forth so much effort in honoring its past and the passionate existing fanbase.

Update: You can check out the trailer yourself below: