I was sitting around my desk today figuring out different ways to kill time when I realized that I’ve actually played a lot of videogames since the last time I spoke to you people. Now I don’t mean you people as in that you guys are different from me, I just mean it in that you guys scare me half to death with all your…productive energy.
Off we go to the fantabulous world of fake words and fungineering!
Shadows of the Damned
I traded in LA Noire for this. Best decision I made this year. This game had everything I wanted in a game, tight pacing, great action, humor, voice acting, and music. Dick jokes? Done in a clever way, or as clever a way you can get away with saying a dick joke. Honestly, I’m going to have to say the same thing as I do with all Suda 51 games and it’s that if you enjoy a good grindhouse movie, Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn, you’ll surely enjoy this game; and while the entire game has that grungy aesthetic, the last boss is as operatically beautiful as they come.
Oh LA Noire why? I wanted to love you so much yet you weren’t original, you weren’t even LA Confidential….you broke my heart.
I’ve already written, talked, and ranted about my problems with LA Noire so all I can give you is an abridged version. Nothing you do matters, the game treats you like you’re stupid and punishes you for having your own thoughts, and Cole Phelps is an asshole and yet you’re forced to feel bad for his jerk ass.
I was so happy when I saw the cover of Catherine for the 360. Between you and me I’m more of a butt guy anyways. Personal preferences aside I really did enjoy Catherine. The game is any puzzlers wet dream of great story and great puzzles. I thought to myself jeez, I wish there were an endless mode or something and there was. I still play it if I want a little Tetris fix.
The story is actually done really well and not sexually driven as the misleading advertisement suggests. In fact, I’m pretty sure the M rating came from the swearing and alcohol rather than anything sexual in nature. The choices are delivered in some interesting ways and the morality meter doesn’t even judge morality as it does something much more interesting. The Best Katherine ending is also probably one of the greatest things of all time and all the supporting characters are outstanding. Orlando and Erica especially…I’m getting giddy just thinking about it. Oh yeah, no shame in switching over to easy mode (or very easy mode in my case…shut up).
Batman: Arkham Asylum
You want to be Batman? Either play this game or wait for the sequel. This is by far the second best superhero game I’ve ever played. The first? Spiderman 2. Aw yeah nostalgia goggles have blinded me.
Best. Bullet time. Action. Ever.
You play as super soldier Sam Gideon with the ability to race across cyber fields leaving behind him a field of destruction. The only thing in his veins are awesome and nicotine and when he’s not leaving women swooning in the dust he’s defeating evil Russian robots.
Or at least that’s what I’m imagining in my head.
In reality it does all those things minus the story elements so the game plays amazingly but the story and characters are boring as hell.
I still love it though.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
You know, the entire game was interesting…Yeah, I had fun and was blown away at times…All that I can’t remember though because I’m stuck on the last boss…And he just won’t die….
Halo 3: ODST
My favorite Halo Campaign. The Halo game for people who don't like modern FPS's.
The philosophy of the Halo games is that you’re a super soldier that does nothing but win wars and kick ass. It’s about Rock n’ Roll and alien destruction and some sort of story which I enjoy but can never remember in detail.
Okay now forget about everything I just said for this.
ODST is slower, more atmospheric…Jazzy.
It’s about vulnerability, fear, isolation. It’s a noir detective story and a Halo game. It’s all about the feel and the feeling is that something is off center. It's you against the world and sadly the world is much, much stronger than you.
I love it.
Well, there’s that.
I always wondered what it meant when someone says “I liked it, but it just wasn’t deep enough.”
I mean yeah, there’s such a thing as trying to grasp too much meaning from something, but wouldn’t it depend on the person if they had any weird philosophical revelation from something?
Another argument in subjectivity I guess.
So I think I got the schedule for this down. Every so often I’ll be posting this up hopefully finishing before August ends. The number of episodes I cover will be the number on each disk. This is disk number 2 out of 6 disks. If people don’t want to read four more blogs following this I’ll probably squeeze more into a single blog, but regardless of whether I finish this blog series or not, I find myself writing these things in the late hours of the night on my own for fun anyways so it’s really a fun thing for myself to do.
As always, spoilers.
Sympathy for the Devil
This episode is another memorable one in the entirety of the series mostly for its mystical background. This summary will have super heavy SPOILERS so I suggest you skip this one if you haven’t seen it.
Who wants to live forever? I certainly wouldn’t want that. If all of life is a race that we all lose then continuing to outrun it sounds like a nightmare. It’s the implications in the episode that’s really food for thought. Could you imagine a world in which you’ve far outlived many of its current citizens and yet in the universal eye you are still a child? The dedication needed to continue surviving while having the burden of childhood chained onto you? Having to outrun and outmaneuver not death, not time, but human perception would be a never ending torture.
I’d like to think in the end Cowboy Bebop is about freedom. Freedom from the past, freedom from the Earth, freedom from pain, and freedom from life. The idea of freedom is different for every one of us but we’re all looking forward to the moment in which we can take a deep breath and truly feel free from all restraints in this world.
Heavy Metal Queen
I really like this session. It has all the fun action sequences, explosions, and some clever jokes but if I were to analyze this session then I would have to state identity as the main theme of this one. The idea of who one is changes because a person continually grows. The me from 8 years ago is different from the me now but to dismiss that former “me” as a phase would be callous. Rather everything that I am, was, and will be are in essence “me”. Some people have trouble accepting that fact, that life is in pursuit of a singular identity buried deep within them and maybe they’re right. In the end I’m just a lazy person who figures that wherever or whoever I am today is the real me. Just like how the character introduced in this session tries hard to cover up her past, she learns that it really doesn’t change anything in the universe to deny her past.
There’s a really cool sequence in some asteroid mines also.
Fun session though.
Waltz for Venus
Session 8 is a pretty melodramatic episode which was even lampshaded in the preview at the end of the last session. Following the new character of the week, a guy trying to do good by mistakenly getting involved with the bad and having to deal with said troubles in which the Bebop crew also get tangled in.
I’ll give it that it was a pretty endearing session, not one of my personal favorites, but fragile in a way. With the Bebop crew you see a sort of directionless atmosphere that could get oppressive but our new character this session has goals which he is close to obtaining and that sort of positive character trait is a refreshing break from stagnation…yet this isn’t really a happy series is it? People try hard to solve all their problems with a magic bullet but I think at this point it’s safe to say that the only ones who have magic powers are either the devil or god and there are no such things as a Deal with God is there?
Jamming With Edward
“Nothing good ever comes from Earth”
It introduces Edward, go watch it.
But seriously I love the way this episode introduces Ed as well as introduces more cool sci-fi aspects into the show.
While searching for a hacker who carved similar drawings to those of the Nazca Lines, the Bebop crew are told to go on the hunt for a “Net Diver” (Hacker) named Radical Edward. What they find ends up spelling trouble for the crew in the form of an outer space dogfight of sorts.
Of course there is a very strong current on the message of loneliness which seems to be an underlying theme throughout the entire series. A child with no family who tries to lodge herself into a new, seemingly more interesting one, an immortal whose isolation from the Earth and from humanity forces him to re-create a time he once felt welcomed, and the idea that loneliness can be cured through company. In the end, the earth is a really lonely place now and what’s the calling of an adventurer if not to go off and have adventures?
No, just wandering with some weirdoes
I used to think Jet had the weakest characterization out of the crew. He has a back story as a cop who lost his arm and a pretty strong code on what it means to be a man which he spouts occasionally. Then there came this session which I saw out of order so probably after seeing the antics of the rest of the crew and you begin to see that Jet is a character built on a solid foundation rather than uncertainty like his fellow crewmates, but that doesn’t necessarily save him from the pain of the unknown.
He [Jet] returns to his home planet, the planet he used to be a cop and the planet he presumably lost his arm. He also lost his love here and maybe somewhere along that line his current emotions cemented, hardened, and built the Jet Black that now roams the stars as a member of the Bebop.
He returns home to find his old love to have moved on with a new man, but rather than any juvenile jealousy, he faces it with a sense of resignation. He had his chance and played the wrong cards, c’est la vie. But for a man who believes that a man needs to be strong and honorable, it hurts him to see his beloved to be entangled with a coward, a child by his standards. A dribbling, know nothing whose full of fear and uncertainty and the pain of how he, a man with strength, courage, and wisdom, could lose out to a mere child who lacks everything Jet has. Damaging to a man’s pride to lose to a weaker man, but damaging to a man’s heart knowing he has to hand over his love to a weaker man.
I was first introduced to the world of Cowboy Bebop in middle school I believe. The first episode I’ve ever seen of the series was Session 19 Pierrot le Fou.
A shocking entrance into the world of Cowboy Bebop and perhaps depending on one’s view of the series it was either the perfect or worst way to be introduced to the world of Cowboy Bebop. That particular episode was mostly silent, more horror than action, cerebral and disturbing, yet distilled as a high adrenaline, high insanity episode that is expected of the series.
After watching Firefly on Netflix I found myself wanting to revisit the world of Bebop. I picked up the complete series on DVD and began watching from the first session all the way to the twenty sixth, something I haven’t done in a good 4 years. Lot of episodes I remember, more episodes I’ve forgotten. Moments I loved and moments completely new. Watching all 26 sessions over the span of three days was the perfect escape I needed. And now as all things loved reaches its natural conclusion, I’m going to try to explain to myself what it was exactly that made the past three days damn near perfect. Episode by episode and maybe even the movie which I saw on Netflix for the first time about 5 months ago. Also spoilers.
3. 2. 1. Let’s Jam.
If ever there were a more perfect introduction to a series, this is it. Quite frankly, going back to the first episode after already having a knowledge of the series makes the first episode the perfect capsule for the entirety of the Bebop universe. The creators from the get go definitely had the entire philosophy of their show mapped out before the end. First there’s the characterizations, the philosophy of Spike, of Jet, their relationship, the mysteries. Everything about them shown in this episode have the right amount of characterization to have you invested in these characters. There’s also the fight scenes and chases, both staples of the series, both choreographed to perfection from the start. Then there’s also the philosophy of the show itself. The rule of cool, the homage to Antonio Banderas, the Noir staples, all present, all blended.
There is an entire mythology around the Cowboy Bebop universe and yet because it's derived from modern (or at least 90's) trappings, nothing seems unfamiliar. At the same time it's original in concept rather than something as lazy as "Space Cola". There are Bounty Hunters in space, drugs called Red Eye, foreign planets that characters call home. An entirely new universe that feels foreign and familiar at the same time. Nothing needs to be explained in detail, everything is comfortably foreign. I believe that to be the true genius of the Bebop world.
Truly a series that would break genres right from the beginning and it would be known as Cowboy Bebop.
Stray Dog Strut
If the first episode was viewed by a newcomer the impression would probably be the same as the one we all had. A cool show with cool characters and lots of action. I wouldn’t be surprised if the director wanted each and every viewer of the new series to think that way. Then decided to show the remaining half of his genius, the parts where the show is not only an ultra cool sci-fi action anime, but a humorous slant on everyday life in space. A couple of bounty hunters are on the job. Their target? A dognapper. The drugs that made the user super crazy and super creepy in the previous episode? A super intelligent dog in this one.
There is no doubt that this episode has a different pace than the first but it sets up the audience for the unexpected. For every episode like Asteroid Blues the audience will have expect an episode like Mushroom Samba and on the extreme side Pierrot le Fou. The unpredictability of the series is what drew many to it in the first place and surprises are always something to expect with each episode of Bebop.
Honky Tonk Woman
Around the time I saw this episode all those years ago, Faye Valentine was the sexiest character in existence to my young television addled brain. More than that I could probably go on about how she is one of the more stronger female characters in entertainment, but anyone who has seen the show could probably make similar arguments and would lead this analysis into trodden territory. Because obviously a woman who is in charge of her sexuality, plays all the right hands, can pilot a star craft and shoot at people all while keeping up the femme fatale persona is a role model in some sense or another. Aside from that though there is a really cool outer space sequence which involves the trading of money and of course is action packed.
There is one thing I want to touch on before I finish with this episode and it’s an idea that I will be centering on throughout the rest of the series and it’s the idea of wandering. Space is large. More vast than the ocean and infinitely more lonely. Without a destination or goal one is just a drifter, something Faye calls Spike during the episode. A “Gorgio” without pride…maybe being an unproductive member of intergalactic society means death.
This episode has one of my favorite openings ever. We see Faye without fuel orbiting a planet waiting for a little help getting to her destination. The food wrappings and discard float around her as she again uses her sex appeal to try and fish some aid from fellow travelers to no luck. All the other space travelers are going fast; faster than Faye, faster than the Bebop. Those who pass by Faye have destinations and goals unlike our female protagonist and the lack of inertia from both her and the crew of the Bebop would lead to their reunion later on in the episode. Both have nowhere to go so why not drift together?
The episode scared me a bit with the eco-terrorist called “mama” by her followers. Her inability to accept any “monkey business” was a bit monstrous and the implications of her experiments were more than diturbing. Still her goal is like those of all eco-terrorists and she would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and their dog. The episode ends with a nail bitingly tense race for survival on the edge of literal oblivion, the kind of action you’ll see that gets the blood pumping and perhaps acts as a catalyst for Spike to accept Faye into the crew after surviving an ordeal like that. On the list of things Spike hates the most, animals, children, and women with attitudes he’s now inhabiting with two of those.
We’ll have to wait for the other a bit.
Ballad of Fallen Angels
If you saw only the first two episodes of Cowboy Bebop and decided it wasn’t for you then you made a mistake. In fact, if you stopped anywhere before watching Session 5 Ballad of Fallen Angels then you stopped too soon.
Legendary, mind blowing, breath taking. Ask any fan which episode of Cowboy Bebop is their favorite and this is surely in the top 5.
Beginning with two criminal organizations ending the bloodshed between the two forces, the peace doesn’t last long with the appearance of a mysterious villain. What follows is a glimpse into the mysterious past of Spike Spiegel with its only purpose raising further questions. It unfurls to operatic heights of shootouts with gangs in a church reminiscent of Hong Kong action movies of John Woo (a personal favorite of mine actually). The wet dream of Quentin Tarantino on opium reaches penultimate heights in a beautiful end sequence.
And in the midst of all the violence are two quotes. “When Angels are forced out of Heaven they become devils.” and “I’m just watching a bad dream I never wake up from.”
There is a theme that I’ve been focusing on throughout my viewing of the series and it’s that without a sense of purpose in life, one is subject to a slow death. Finding a purpose in life is hard and maybe one can’t truly awaken until they find their calling. Perhaps the ennui of life is actually the feeling of death. Maybe all this talking means I shouldn’t be allowed a keyboard and access to the blogs.
If you enjoy anime but not fanatically, a passing curiosity with the Cowboy Bebop series then I suggest watching Session 5. The enclosed storyline of each episode in Bebop means you can jump into pretty much any episode in the series without prior viewing and Ballad of Fallen Angels may be just for you if you need a quick kick of some good action flick.
Well that’s the first 5 episodes of Cowboy Bebop. I don’t really know if I should continue or not but I do want some feedback for future references.
In a world where scum and villainy walk down the sidewalk hand in hand to steal old people’s ice cream and little children’s 401 K, a hero is needed.
Sadly that hero isn’t here so instead you get the random thoughts of a perfectly sane man.
It is time for the
Due to my friend’s odd sense of obligation we went off to see the 7th Harry Potter film. The obligation being that he’s seen all the films and would like to be there for the finale. Anyways, enjoyable film despite not having read the 7th book so take that as you will discerning public.
Another film we saw? Larry Crowne, the Tom Hanks film…There were old people everywhere….everywhere.
I’ve won. I’ve been showing my family the true glory that is Arrested Development and they love it. Now it’s always “Let’s watch the next episode of that Jason Bateman show!” and I know inside that I’ve done the lord’s work.
I also recently had a marathon of all 26 episodes of my second favorite anime of all time, Cowboy Bebop.
Ennui…an unemployed bored youth such as myself counting down the days until I can feel useful again put me in the perfect mood for this show as it shows a crew more often than not, drifting through the stars waiting for another possible event.
I’ve seen the lizard.
Anyways I was thinking of writing something, maybe an analysis of the entire series or an episode by episode analysis…no don’t worry, not 26 separate blogs. Anyways might as well keep this brain from rotting away by deeply looking into a piece of entertainment.
They Might Be Giants releases a new album tomorrow so that’s going to be fun. Aside from that nothing else.
You know how every now and then I finish a large batch of games and write that blog post with pictures and occasionally throw in some odd thing at the end? I’ll probably write one after Catherine comes out next week.
Who reads books amirite?
Joking aside I found my complete collection of Sherlock Holmes!!! I didn’t even know I owned such a collection! I think it must’ve been a gift to me. Oh well, I’ll be beginning that so yeah.
Two days ago I took out my bicycle because it was a lovely day. On the way to lunch I had a bit of an accident that flung me off of my bike and shredded my left knee. It hurt. So, losing my appetite I got on my bike, turned around, and rode home. The End.
I wish college would start soon. The part time job market seems to be tough here and I can’t seem to find work. I know for a fact I’m not trying as hard as I should, but applying to the midnight shifts of nearly everywhere I go seems to be a good idea. Regardless it feels like I’m just floating around waiting for me to wake up from some weird waking coma…I need to try harder.
My house will not get hotter than 85 degrees. The moment that thermostat reaches 85, I turn on the AC. That is the rule of this land. My people will not suffer heat greater than or equal to 85 degrees. I am a just king and though I will not help them with their food shortages or their wars, my people will live in a comfortable 77 degrees climate.
My eyes have that crazy look so I guess I should end this.
When a game offers expansive lands, hours upon hours of quests, side quests, alternate routes, branching story lines, Easter eggs, what that game is really doing is challenging the player to invest time into the game.
Want to farm a bit and makes some gold? Go ahead. How about traveling across the great mountainous region to collect some materials for the Gold Shield of the Sleepy Dragon Person of Great Power? Have at it! How long would it take to finish it all? 12 hours? 46 hours? 1 month? 7 months? A year? And even then what does one do with their gold and shield? Tackle the main quest with new weapons that would make overcoming the adventure easier? Use them to equip themselves to face even larger challenges? In the end it really is an investment.
A player’s initial input of such and such hours would have returns of such and such rewards whether they be items, story pieces, areas and quests. The more time that is invested, the greater the returns. Of course in all investments there are of course losses. With every new side quest completed the demon continues to destroy villages. For every flower collected into the log book a family waits for their father. For every chicken kicked a princess waits in her tower.
And I bring this up because I have yet to play a game like that. A game in which every hour lost to racing villagers in a local Dodo race or betting on a herculean reptile fight, the princess still waits in her tower, the Evil Emperor puts off his plans of world domination another day, and a family is still waiting for the father that promised to return to them in a month.
The true loss in the investment of time is the loss of said time, but instead of disappearing or being subtracted from the initial payment, it simply moves into nonexistence. The months of farming and adventuring disappears from canon and once you do decide to return to the action, the campaign against the Demon King or the solving of the key case, the story picks off where you left off, not caring about the farming excursion and instead effectively having that month disappear, and even if you do have that golden shield as proof of collecting materials from across the land for who knows how long, the story treats the item as having materialized from non existence while devouring your time into that same void from which that very shield came from.
The most recent example was L.A. Noire a game that I consider to be the biggest disappointment of 2011 (so far). A case in homicide which I blundered through, overlooked key evidence, failed interrogations, and ultimately jailed the wrong perpetrator led me to take the lash of a very mad Irish police captain. “The worst goddamn detective in all my years of the force” he says as he puts me back on the beat. But do I have to play 3 hours of patrol again just to get into the man’s good graces again?
Instead I move past to the next case in which he calls me and my partner “His crusaders, against the fight against evil! Truly we are a God send!” Now the incident may be seen as a time lapse of sorts, but to ignore a detective who jailed an innocent man and brutalized witnesses on circumstantial evidence surly must flag a red light in an ever vigilant Irish Teutonic Knight?
Sadly, that and the fact that Cole Phelps is a detestable human being prevented me from enjoying yet another open world game that gave me too much freedom and limitations in all the wrong places.
Freedom is a blanket term for no boundaries, a game in which a player can do what he wants, when he wants, how he wants to do it, but the idea of freedom and a set story works in contradiction with one another. In order to have a story progress in a way the story teller desires there needs to be some restrictions on the actions of the player but the mutant hybrid of free choice and narrative story telling has given birth to the disregard of unity. Sub quests and the Main quest act as if existing in two different worlds. One world is in imminent danger, the other free from such trivial matters, and this small little separation is what drives me crazy about Freedom.
I want a game where the flow of time travels in one direction. A game in which every hour spent procrastinating is time where the Demon King destroys another village, a village that may have been important in stopping said king. Perhaps the princess is executed, but fear not for the story takes a turn towards darker territory where the hero, despised by all the people of the land for letting their beloved princess die, continues to make amends for his mistakes as the loathed anti-hero.
I want a world free from the constraints of non unity. An open world game where not only every decision truly matters, but every hour is of the utmost importance.
It’s the morning, I’m groggy, I’m listening to sounds…I think it’s time for another inconsequential blog into the inconsequential life of LawofThermalDynamics!!!
While trying to write a worthwhile blog about Shadows of the Damned I keep getting sent back to square one. Namely, I keep erasing everything I have and starting over from “Shadows of the Damned is a kickass game.” My writings have seen better days…..
Meanwhile in the game Trenched aboard the USS McKinley, my mech, the Moby Dick rains downs artillery and gunfire in a barrage that some natives in the Pacific have named The Great Fire…or at least that’s what I imagined them to be calling it as I lay waste to their island homes…I don’t speak…whatever it is that they speak.
The Moby Dick is also painted red and goes three times as fast.
So I was driving when The Beach Boys’ Kokomo came on the air. I liked the song so much I decided to listen to their so-called masterpiece Pet Sounds. Now what I expected was songs about jogging on the beach…with your dog, playing Frisbee in the sand….with your dog, and surfing….with your dog. What I got was one of the most depressing albums about lost love, isolation, general sadness, and longing. Did not see it coming at all. Still, it’s a great album and I can see why The Beach Boys didn’t disappear in the annals of Pop Music.
Weird...I'm trying to embed a video but that option seems to be missing...Well, here's a link instead.
I saw Snatch recently and I liked it way more than Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. If I had to give as to reasons why I liked one more than the other than I’d be at a loss for exacts. Snatch was overall just funnier, more action-y, and all around more interesting.
Also, I finally figured out where Baccano got its opening:
So gamers get upset about lots of odd things that sometimes don’t make sense *cough* Green Eyes *cough*, but recent outrage over Nintendo and Resident Evil Mercenaries seem justified in my opinion. Both incidents involve some denial of rights gamers come to expect over the years and it seems incomprehensible as to why anyone would make such a decision such as these.
As I’m currently looking for a part time job to earn a little extra money, I know now what it is like to be an unproductive member of society. I had a small existential breakdown over minimum wage, but all in all here’s hoping I find something that may send a little extra my way. I really hope I get the Midnight shift in the storeroom, that sounds really fun. (Not sarcastic at all. I really want that job.)
Fun Fact: Panda Express didn’t want me after the interview….weird.
Next Week: The Origins of the Stupefying Adventures of LawofThermalDynamics