September 1, 2014

Street Fighter IV's Ultras Are Impressive Even When Stripped Down

What did the five fingers say to the face?!

While the dramatic camera angles of the Street Fighter IV series' Ultra Combos offer the most visually engaging aspects of the games' 2.5D style, the effect would suffer greatly if the characters' animations were lacking. Thanks to Youtube user moo422, we can check out every Ultra from the Ultra SFIV iteration of the game in a fixed perspective. The end result reveals that many of these moves are impressive even without additional cinematics.

August 30, 2014

A Personal Note

If there's any purpose to Castle Geek-Skull, it's to share things I care about. While the likes of action figures and gaming often fit the bill, those subjects are obviously not always going to be of the highest priority. For a personal example, none of my usual content is anywhere near as important to me as my dog Rocky. If I'm going to continue writing here, I'd like to start by focusing on him.

July 28, 2014

The Only New Movies I've Seen This Year Are Marvel Movies

Leave me alone, I'm watchin' mah stories.

Despite the crowds full of people that won't be quiet or turn off their cellphones, I still love going to the movies. I'm even the sort to keep my ticket stubs. I don't even let the apparent stigma that it's somehow sad to go alone get to me. If I want to go see something, I go for it. Regardless, 2014 has been a pretty light year for me as far as theatrical experiences go.

With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, it dawned on me that it'll only be the third movie I've actually gone to see this year. As the image up top suggests, the first two were Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It seems only Marvel characters have enough allure to actually get me to the theater these days. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fell through the cracks somehow, but I did at least plan on seeing it. I may have also flirted with the idea of checking out Godzilla for a moment or two, but that's honestly it.

Maybe I've been too distracted, or maybe it's just been a mostly ho-hum year for mainstream movies. Beats me. I really enjoyed Winter Soldier and Days of Future Past however, so hey — quality over quantity!

As I look through the list of films yet to be released this year, there's only a small handful I have any interest in. While it's been nice to keep the list of movies I actually attend short and sweet for a change, I miss the days of seeing them more frequently. Maybe 2015 will turn things back around, or maybe I'll only end up seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man! Shrug.

I'm Chris Keating, and I look damn good in a top hat. For more, feel free to check me out on Twitter & Facebook!

July 27, 2014

Marvel vs. Capcom's Attack Names Would Be Pretty Weird In Comics

Can't we all just get along?

With Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins on sale for just over $3, it was clear that there was no better time to finally make the purchase. This compilation of the original Marvel vs. Capcom and Marvel Super Heroes is a wonderful journey through mid to late 1990s arcade nostalgia. Of course, the anime style attack names shouted by the characters throughout each match comprise one of the first quirks you're reacquainted with as you begin battling your way to either Thanos or Onslaught. Just as Street Fighter gameplay is riddled with cries of "Hadoken" and "Shoryuken," Capcom's Marvel based fighters assault your ears with the likes of "Berseker Barrage," "Charging Star," and "Spider Sting!"

Hearing all of this again made me imagine how bizarre (and cluttered) mid-battle dialogue would become if comic books followed the same convention. I took to Photoshop to see what it might look like. Behold:

July 26, 2014

This Playstation Optimus Prime Toy is My Childhood Personified

When I saw that Takara Tomy is gearing up to release an Optimus Prime toy that bizarrely transforms into an original Playstation console, it was if they were perfectly summing up my entire childhood. My early years were spent watching the old Transformers cartoon over and over, and my afternoons and weekends were largely occupied with Playstation games as I entered my teens. Regardless of how "out of nowhere" the concept may seem, it was pretty much guaranteed that I'd be all in for Playstation Optimus.

July 25, 2014

I Want Rocket Raccoon and Groot Children's Books. Come At Me.


Legendary poster warlords Mondo released a handful of Guardians of the Galaxy prints for San Diego Comic Con 2014, and my favorite of the bunch is undoubtedly Mike Mitchell's "Tree Hugger" featuring Rocket Raccoon and Groot. While I'm sure there are comic fans that would cringe at the idea, this incredibly cute aesthetic makes me clamor for a series of slightly tongue-in-cheek children's books featuring all sorts of adventure and awesome bro moments.

Jeffrey Brown's Star Wars books (such as Darth Vader and Son) prove that you can take iconic characters initially meant for slightly older audiences and portray them in a friendlier context that can be enjoyed on different levels by both children and adults. I'd love to see Marvel join in on something similar. They have more than enough strong characters to work with, and I say Rocket Raccoon and Groot would be the perfect pair to help kick things off. Who's with me?!

Don't tell me I'm all alone here. Feel free to jump on my Twitter & Facebook profiles to discuss your feelings on the matter!

July 24, 2014

Transformers Generations Superion and Menasor Look Promising!

combiner wars menasor and superion
Dudes made up of five other dudes.

As Hasbro's Transformers team wrapped up its upcoming products panel at Botcon 2014, they teased the audience with a silhouette that looked an awful lot like the original Generation 1 character Superion: the massive combined form of the "Aerialbots" team. Just over a month later, the company kicked off their San Diego Comic Con 2014 showing with a bang by revealing the toy in full! The upcoming Transformers: Generations Superion was shown off at the SDCC 2014 Hasbro Breakfast Event alongside a corresponding Menasor, the famous "Stunticon" combiner. We were also hit with the news that the overarching theme of next year's toy releases would be "Combiner Wars," meaning there are more to come!

"Combiner Wars" is a solid idea for the Generations line, as the combination gimmick is always one of the most clamored for amongst the Transformers collecting community. The sheer number of third party attempts to fulfill that demand over the years — as well as how much cash fans were willing to shell out for them — should make that crystal clear. I can imagine the idea will still resonate with kids as well.

While restrictions such as staying within retail price points in a less than forgiving economy and meeting strict safety regulations might keep them from matching some of the higher hopes of adult collectors, I think Generations Superion and Menasor look promising thus far. There's a nice overall balance between paying homage to the original designs and adding a bit of modern sensibility. As such, I figured it'd be fun to assemble a quick comparison of the new toys with their original counterparts (both toy and character model alike.) Let's go!

Generations Silverbolt (the Aerialbot leader with a fear of heights) looks to have been approached similarly to his 2008 Universe counterpart. I recall that being an unpopular toy given its simplistic transformation. The engineering doesn't look much more complicated here, but I'm sure the ability to combine will do a lot to win over collectors that worry over such things.

July 23, 2014

NECA's NES Batman Is Something I Never Expected To See

This is my favorite dance move.

NECA recently announced that they will be releasing a 7 inch NES Batman figure, complete with the odd blue and purple color scheme the character sported in Sunsoft's Batman: The Video Game. This honestly caught me by surprise. There are tons of new Batman action figures every single year, and I could have sworn that all of the possible variations were already accounted for.

I'm impressed that NECA managed to find a version of Batman that had previously fallen through the cracks. My most recent experience with Batman: The Video Game was watching the Game Grumps' playthrough, and I didn't think about the possibility of seeing that wacky color palette in plastic form a single time. Even if it feels less "essential" than the likes of Greg Capullo's Zero Year Batman or the Batman: Arkham Knight costume, I'm glad that NECA saw the potential.

July 22, 2014

The Latest Samurai Shodown Footage is a Horrible, Horrible Tease

samurai spirits pachinko slot machine
Samurai Slot Machine

I've always considered Samurai Shodown to be one of SNK's coolest franchises. I remember thinking the original game was just about the best thing I'd ever seen when I was a kid. While it was ultimately eclipsed by Soul Calibur in the sword based fighting game department, Shodown is of undeniable importance to the genre as a whole.

Unfortunately, SNK Playmore's last attempt at keeping the franchise relevant didn't pan out. 2008 saw the release of Samurai Shodown Sen, a negatively reviewed 3D fighter that generally flew under the radar. Regardless, I'd love to see them give it another shot.

Something along the lines of Street Fighter IV or the Xbox One Killer Instinct that uses stylized 3D character models on a traditional 2D plane would probably work wonderfully. In fact, there's a recent bit of CG rendered Samurai Shodown footage that gives us brief glimpses of exactly that. When viewed out of context, it looks pretty promising. You can check it out below:

July 21, 2014

Killing Cows in Minecraft Makes Me Sad

What have I dooooooooone?!

As of now, my experience with Minecraft is a bit on the limited side. I first played the game during a family outing and enjoyed it enough to eventually purchase the PS3 edition. Of course, my maiden voyage consisted of trying to earn as many of the game's trophies as possible while still in the tutorial level. When it came to the "Cow Tipper" trophy — wherein you have to kill a cow to get leather — I couldn't help feeling bad as I hacked away at the poor thing.

I can only think back to one other time where I killed a seemingly innocent animal in a game: a huge group of crows in Resident Evil 4. I can't recall feeling quite so bad in that instance. Maybe I was swayed by all the sweet loot they dropped.

I'm rich!