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 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:

December 1, 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweaters Gone Geeky

Holiday cheer is the right of all sentient beings.

Well, here we go. The holiday season is upon us yet again. I'm more of a Halloween kind of guy, but there are at least a few elements of Christmas I can still appreciate. At the very top of the list are the festive yet disturbingly ugly sweaters adorned with tacky graphics, glitter, and bells. I'm not especially keen on wearing any, but I admire their alluring mixture of goofiness and gaudiness. It's all about the alliteration, baby.

Despite admiring these eyesores from afar, I find myself feeling more swayed than ever to actually join in on the fun. This year, the wonderful world of pop culture t-shirt stores have tapped into the realm of ugly Christmas sweaters in glorious fashion. Here are a few that have caught my eye thus far:

Guardians of the Galaxy "Holiday Mix Vol. 1"

November 23, 2014

Street Fighter 3 "Daigo Parry" Re-created At Moment 37 Reloaded

Tech Bonus, Tech Bonus, Tech Bonus

This weekend in Fighting Games Land, the "Moment 37 Reloaded" event was all the rage. 2014 marks the ten year anniversary of the most famous chunk of competitive Street Fighter play: "Evo Moment #37" from the Evolution 2004 Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike tournament. For those unfamiliar, this refers to a match where Daigo Umehara (playing Ken) parried a Houyoku Sen Super Art from Justin Wong's Chun-Li in full. The move would have killed Umehara from chip damage even if he'd chosen to block. He seamlessly switched to a jumping parry near the end, setting up a combo that won the round.

Don't watch this with headphones.

November 21, 2014

Reignite Neo Geo Pocket Color Nostalgia With Pocket Rumble!

Pre-Alpha Pocket Rumble Gameplay.

Cardboard Robot Games' Pocket Rumble is a proposed 2D fighting game that homages the beautifully nostalgic style of handheld Neo Geo Pocket Color fighters and offers accessible, strategy centric gameplay. It can be difficult to jump into more established titles these days given their strict execution requirements and wide skill gaps between beginner and advanced players. Even something like Ultra Street Fighter IV can make for an alienating experience when someone new to the series hops into the shark infested waters of online battle. Pocket Rumble addresses this issue head on.

November 9, 2014

Interstellar Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

Interstellar's "Endurance" spacecraft.

It's been some time since I've attempted to actually review a movie, but Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is well worth talking about. I've enjoyed his previous output quite a bit, so this latest release finally gave me the impetus to break the streak of having only seen Marvel flicks this year. The plot literally takes you places, from a dusty farm town to the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond. The pace will likely seem too slow for some, but it seems to pick up rather rapidly once the second act comes around. The run time is just shy of 3 hours, and while there were times when I wish it'd been shorter, it had more to do with my surroundings than the film itself. I'll get to that in a bit.

November 8, 2014

My Mother's Love Of Comic Books Helped Inspire My Own

A handful of my mother's funnybooks.

My mother was always a big kid at heart. As far back as I can remember, she collected toys, watched cartoons, and occasionally played video games. Her biggest hobby was a love of reading however, and she often read comic books between whatever novel might have caught her eye. She was a big fan of the DC Universe in particular, especially Superman. I have fond memories of visiting comic stores (and the comic sections of book shops) with her on weekends. Sometimes we even made trips up to the big city in our state just to see what issues we could find. Comics were at the center of a lot of really good times for us.

I'm not sure if my own interest in the medium started separately or not, but I know my mom's enthusiasm for comics clearly had an effect. They were always around, and I loved looking through them even before I knew what most of the words said. Rather than keeping me away from them, this was actively encouraged. I quickly formed interests in tons of characters that I still hold dear today, and I immediately took to drawing them in whatever rudimentary way possible. That ultimately lead to one of the biggest aspects of my creativity and overall identity.

November 4, 2014

The Fleeting Joy Of Finding USPS Spider-Man Packages

Thwippin' in the sunlight, thwippin' in the moonlight, having a wonderful time.

While grabbing some shipping material the other day, I was greeted by a variety I had never seen before: USPS Priority Flat-Rate boxes emblazoned with Spider-Man's beautiful visage. Given my lifelong love of the old Webhead, running into him unexpectedly is generally cause for celebration. I didn't go as far as breaking into dance, but the "I need to grab these, photograph them, and talk about them on the internet!" urge was definitely sparked. Here are just a few examples of the onslaught of pictures that ensued:

Variety 1, in all its slightly misshapen glory.