Saturday, April 5

The Soul Still Burns!

I got my hands on the PS2 version of Soul Calibur 2.

Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast was one of the most beautiful fighting games in both looks and gameplay ever, and it is a viable reason for gamers to pick up one of Sega's last consoles. The game was a mammoth leap over the PS original, Soul Blade, and just screams excellence. Well, it took quite a while, but a sequel to that masterful weapon fighter has finally arrived... and then some! All three major consoles (Xbox, PS2, Gamecube) have a version of Soul Calibur 2, with each version being differentiated by a 'guest' character that is unique to that platform. For PS2, the fighter who's sitting in is Heihachi Mishima, the DOM (Deadly Old Man) from Namco's other big brawler, Tekken. Now how, you would ask, would a fist fighter like Heihachi do in a game full of guys and gals with big honking swords? Well, pretty good actually... he plays very similarly to his Tekken outing, but comes with iron bracers to parry blows. Anyway, Mitsurugi, Taki, Ivy, Xianghua and the rest of the veterans are joined by newbies Yunsung (a sword wielder like Hwang), Talim (a tonfa fighter), Raphael (a fast rapier user) and Cassandra (veteran Sophitia's younger sister who also uses a sword and shield). Also new to SC is Necrid, a monstrous fighter designed by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane (Spawn is the guest character in the Xbox version of SC2).
SC2 has TONS of modes and secrets, like extra weapons, stages, costumes and fighters to unlock in the various modes, particularly the Weapon Master Mode which sends your chosen fighter on a quest all over a map, fighting various duels to satisfy varied conditions- from fighting in a quicksand arena to defeating enemies with only throws. Thankfully, Namco loaded the game's extras with favorites like Sophitia, Seung Mina, Cervantes and Yoshimitsu. SC2 certainly has loads of replay.
Graphically, the game looks great in every arena, though I have to say it's not an obvious, huge leap over the first game; and the DC version actually looked more hi-res. Plus, I just find the costumes of the characters... not too great. Oh well. Not everything can be DOAX, I guess... but we can dream... Anyway, the animation, stages and characters just look excellent, and that's all you have to know. This game is a beauty.
In terms of gameplay, SC2 is fun and easy to get into, the control is perfect and the fighting just rocks. The characters have tons of moves, with cool alternate stances, throws and combos. The balance seems quite great, and the lineup of fighters is diverse and full of interesting personalities.

Soul Calibur 2 is a must for fighting game fans; games this big are rare, and it comes out in a time when crap like Tao Feng infest shelves. Get it when you can! At the very least it will hold the fort until the Dead or Alive: Code Chronos comes out...

Friday, April 4

Zsa Zsa #2 Preview!

For mature readers Ever!

The second and concluding part of Carl Vergara's opus, Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah won't be available in stores until the end of April, but you can have a taste of the fun, action, humor and gorgeous art right now! has posted 10 full pages online for your enjoyment! Click here for your Zsa Zsa fix now!

At lunchtime I decided to get out of the office and just drift around the area. I haven't been able to do that in the past couple of weeks, so it was nice to finally just have the time to do it. I got into a cab and zipped on down to Glorietta. We passed by Rustan's and saw that there was yet another strike outside the posh store. My taxi driver remarked 'Some people can never be satisfied. They should've been thankful to even have jobs.' I looked on and thought, yeah, life was hard and jobs are often hard to come by. But you can't really fault people for wanting something better. For all we know, the owners of these big superstores are really crappy with their workers' pay. I know one particular store chain here is quite miserly in spending... well, I guess that's how they stay rich. Heh.
Anyway, I walked around for a bit, at a loss for awhile on where I should eventually have my noontime repast. I eventually decided on an old favourite that I haven't enjoyed in a long time... Soup Kitchen. I'm a soup guy, what can I say? I love soup with anything, and try to have some on the side with my meals. Well, here, the soup is the main dish, and everything else is on the side. I got the classic Chili, which comes really savoury and spicy and hot with chips and cheese. Mmmm. I ordered a half-chicken sandwich (which is half of a chicken sandwich not a sandwich made from half a chicken) on the side and a creamy chocolate mousse for dessert. SK's mousse is quite rich since unlike the versions of other restaurants, it doesn't have a 'bread' or cake base... it's just white cream and brown cream. Delicious.
After getting full, I walked some more and picked up my catch of the day: A copy of the PS2 version of Soul Calibur 2!!! WOOHOO! Now, the trick is getting the thing to work... Anyway, I finished off my journey by heading into Bibliarch and getting some mags. Ah. A long weekend looms, and it should be a nice little break.

Thursday, April 3

Zsa Zsa 2: An early review!

Last night, I ate dinner with Carl and Cams at Almon Marina Megamall. We were waiting for the new stocks to arrive at Comic Quest, and talking about various things over gourmet sandwiches. When time finally came for the weekly bloodletting for my reading material, I took home several issues of Tomb Raider, the latest Elektra and a copy of Protoculture Addicts anime magazine. Yes, I know Newtype USA is more than enough to sate my anime news cravings, but... well... it's for old time's sake. Heh.
Anyway, as we were going home in Cam's car, I had the pleasant and distinct surprise of being given a copy of the final build of the second issue of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah! This truly wonderful, humorous and visually splendid homage/deconstruction/remake of the Darna story by Carlo Vergara proved to be a big hit among comic readers... Carl has had to re-stock the various CQ branches with copies since they run out so fast; one funny story being that even the sample/display copies were taken by readers dying to see this beautiful and irreverent superhero/heroine comic.

Anyway, the second issue, which is due by or before the end of April in stores, continues the adventures of gay beautician Ada and her super-powered alter-ego, Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah. She has to face the powerful Amazonistas from Planet X, alien women who have eliminated their own male counterparts on their planet. Is Zsa Zsa a match for the evil and english-speaking Queen Femina? Or is the planet doomed to be conquered by the feminist invaders?
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah #2 should once again entertain with its trademark hilarious dialogue and funny expressions, but this time Carl ups the ante with some truly impressive action sequences. Name it, Zsa Zsa's got 'em... high speed Matrix-esque kung-fu, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon poses, high-tech weaponry, scantily-clad vixens, surprising revelations, dramatic death scenes (!) and all the good stuff. Of course, even with all the drama and action, ZZ still manages to squeeze out the a laugh, chuckle and a hoot with every other page. Once again, Carl raises the bar. Heh.
If there is any complaint, I have to say that the first had more laugh-out loud moments, though there are several priceless touches in issue 2 that just make me smile everytime I think about them. Of course, I won't spoil ANY of them here... you'll all have to wait till the end of April though. At the time of this writing, Zsa Zsa 2's already at the printers. Don't worry though... the conclusion of this first (and hopefully not the last) Zaturnnah story is very much worth the wait.

Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah is sold at Comic Quest branches. Story and Art by Carlo Vergara, Black and white, lots and lots of pretty pages. Get it now, mga bruha. Heh.

Wednesday, April 2

Alias At Last

Last night I was able to catch the first episode of the popular spygirl series, Alias, starring Daredevil star Jennifer Garner. It was cool to see the series in the original english dialogue instead of the tagalog dub on local channels. What do I think of it? It ROCKS. MIss Garner just captivates every scene, the layered and complex story is excellent and intriguing, the action is hard-hitting and gritty and the music is cool with key scenes. Sydney Bristow has now officially joined my collection of top female heroines; yep, right along with Buffy, Kim and yes, Angel. Heh.
Anyway, the series is just starting and we've yet to get to the even cooler episodes with the trick gadgets and other gimmicks that made this show a hit. Fortunately it's on AXN so it's almost impossible to miss since the schedules give you so many chances to watch the show. Ah. Good things come to those who wait. AAAAh.

Tuesday, April 1

Shocking Movie News!

4th Lord of the Rings film planned! Director Peter Jackson has announced that there will be a movie devoted entirely to the aftermath of the LOTR story, taking place in Hobbiton and The Shire as it is invaded by Uruk-Hai and their mysterious leader, 'Sharky'.

The old TV series Man From Atlantis is going to be remade into a movie.

In a surprising bit of Harry Potter news, the role of wise wizard Albus Dumbledore has been given to Oscar-award winner, Jack Nicholson.

A movie based on the Zelda games by Nintendo is planned. Early reports have said that Orlando Bloom and Heath Ledger are being eyed for the role of the swashbuckling Link.

What's a skipping train?

It's what you call a train at the MRT station here in Manila that skips every other stop (thus remaining mostly empty) for the sole purpose of easing the crowds at overloaded MRT stations. I learned this fact this morning at the Cubao MRT station. Cool! That way I was able to get to work on time despite the crush. Heh.
Anyway, at work I finally made the big move to a new desk in a different part of the office, with a mostly-new team and different accounts. I'll miss my older jobs with TV shoots with pretty girls... but then again, cool TV commercials are mine to make wherever I go. Hoho...

Sunday, March 30

Catching a movie

At the tail end of the day, my friend Pot came along, wanting us to go do something. Bored and not able to sleep, I agreed and decided on seeing Dreamcatcher. Now, this Stephen King novel-turned horror-action-buddy movie hasn't had too many good reviews, but I stil wanted to see it if only for the fact that it comes with The Final Flight of the Osiris, the CG-animated Animatrix episode by Square USA. Anyway, we first went to Greenhills' Theater Mall, but it wasn't showing there. Eventually we headed for Robinson's Galleria to get our cinematic goal. Despite entering at about 4:30 for a movie set for 4:00, we didn't seem to miss much (except perhaps for Osiris, which is shown just before the main flick), since the scary and gory stuff wasn't on when we got in.
Dreamcatcher is all about a quartet of lifelong friends, the 'special' child that they befriended and who gave them special powers, an alien invasion and an insane army commander. Sound exciting? Sound like a blockbuster? Nope. What it all amounts to is a movie that's pretty mixed up in terms of content, theme, message and levels of entertainment. Part John Carpenter's The Thing, part Outbreak (That old Dustin Hoffman movie... Morgan Freeman was in that too), part Stand By Me.
Basically, twenty years ago, four boys save a retarded kid from bullies. This sets them on a lifelong friendship with the boy, whom they call 'Duddits'. Along the way, Duddits reveals that he has some special powers; powers to read minds and find people. These powers he shares with his friends, who grow up to adulthood. Every year, the friends meet at a cabin to reminisce and just bond. Unfortunately, this year's reunion comes with some sinister events.
A sick man stumbles into the area, entering the friends' cabin and soon proving that he's hiding some terrible... things. Suffice to say that after that, there are some gross-out stuff, strangely phallic aliens, a weird possession and Gollum-like split personality conversations, some odd psychic powers and an oddly-out of place helicopter attack on a SPACESHIP. Oh well.
The cast is forgettable, though actor Damien Lewis (Band of Brothers' Captain Winters) is the easiest to discern and has the best seat in the house (heh) in terms of the story. Oh, and Tom Sizemore and Morgan Freeman are there as well, proving almost pointless aside from adding some pointless action sequences.
Watching Dreamcatcher entertained, grossed out and made me laugh. It's a pretty bad movie, but I can't condemn it too much... not when it comes with the simply beautiful Animatrix episode, Final Flight of the Osiris.
This 9 or so minute short animation film tells a short story of the titular ship from Zion, the human city in The Matrix. Onboard, lead characters Thaddeus(Morpheus clone) and Jue(CG Ming-Na Wen) enjoy a scenic striptease/sword duel training simulation where they slowly strip away each other's already scanty clothing. Of course, we see a lot of perfectly-rendered CG skin here, something not seen in Square USA's earlier CG work, Final Fantasy the movie. Anyway, an alert breaks up the simulated interlude and the crew gets back to reality. There, among the ruined buildings of the surface, they find a virtual swarm of machines and a huge drilling machine being readied directly over Zion.
Pursued by the numberless robots, the Osiris's crew tries one single chance to get a warning to their home. Jue volunteers and after a tender moment with Thaddeus, she's back into the Matrix and off to do her mission as her comrades battle a losing fight in the real world.
At just under 10 minutes, Osiris doesn't have much substance, but it's DAMN pretty to look at. All it does is whet your appetite for the next Matrix sequels, and that's pretty much all it was meant to do. The CG is great (Pot didn't notice it was CG until I told him) but still not perfect (or too perfect), but it was a notch better than the Final Fantasy movie. A cool, sexy anime that I will want to have along with the eight other Animatrix episodes when the DVD comes out in June.

Well that's that for now. We'll crash back at the house and have a pizza dinner, most likely. And then, it's to rest since tomorrow is yet another long day of work. Sigh.
And now for something a little different...

Last night, the gang went off from our usual haunts to the colorful, windy expanse of Manila's waterfront, Malate. Me, Vinnie, Dean, Gig, Jason, Cams and Noel piled into the van and went along Roxas Boulevard looking for a good place to eat a late dinner. We were quite pleasantly surprised at the bright, pretty lampposts that lined the long road overlooking the sea; they looked like neon lollipops from one of Jason's near-future Manila settings. Heh. Anyway, bright lights made the place almost likeable to me (Old Manila really isn't my place). We finally decided on a restaurant at the Wharf. We ate at the far end of a... well, a wharf. The food was good but unless you're flush with cash, you should stay away of the menu items that are paid for in grams. Anyway, I had the perfect food for a sea-themed restaurant... gravy-covered chicken. Heh. Anyway, other items ordered by the guys included Oysters Rockefeller, sisig, inihaw na baboy and seafood rice. While a band at a neighboring restaurant provided music, we talked and chatted the night away with discussions and talks which eventually went home to Dean and Noel's 'dark pasts'. By the time we actually got a breather from all the talking and laughing, we were ALONE and the whole restaurant was being packed away for the morning. Oh well.
Of course, the night didn't end there, and we went off to Malate's main hub where the young, hip and gay crowd congregated. Dean and Noel toyed with the idea of acting like a gay couple as we looked around. Sadly, we discovered that one of my and Vinnie's fave places- the French cafe known as The Blue Frog, was closed. Our feet took us predictably to a popular gay/sex shop where we perused the various souvenirs, paraphernalia, lingerie, sex toys and what have you. By a miracle, we actually bought something- Gig walked out with a neat, colorful ring.
Finally, we settled down inside Comic Cafe and had drinks while we winded down and talked about some ethical and moral matters. It was nice to just rest in the aircon interior, looking out at the young crowd that milled outside, totally alien to most of us. By the time we considered going home, it was well past 3 AM... our latest foray so far. Cool. But I really need to rest now. And catch up with other stuff.