Friday, June 4

Magic Weekend

Tomorrow the gang will be donning our sorcerers' robes, taking up our wands and getting ready to watch the latest Harry Potter movie, Prisoner of Azkaban. I've been excited to watch this film since I saw the first trailer, and several trailers later I'm more stoked than ever. I'm dying to see how director Alfonso Cuaron's new take on the series really stacks up against the earlier HP flicks. Having great actors like Gary Oldman join the veteran cast is also a treat. Thirdly, I was actually able to read Azkaban, so seeing how the movie lives up to the book is another issue.
Aaah... tomorrow seems so far away. That is, unless I break down and watch it tonight. Hoho...
Completing an Epic

Last night I sauntered into the Megamall branch of Astrovision and pretty much mindlessly bought myself the last DVD in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King. Yeah, yeah, the extended version dvd set is coming in November. Yeah, yeah, I already have quite decent pirate dvds of ROTK already. Yeah, yeah, yeah... So SUE me. I'm a completist.
Anyway, the theatrical widescreen release comes in 2 discs. Disc one of course contains the movie, which comes in the cut seen in movie theaters and expectedly has no commentary tracks. The Special Features disc contains about three to four TV specials on Return of the King, lots of little short features on the making of ROTK (originally seen on the LOTR official site), trailers (including the 'super trailer' which spans all three movies) and a feature from the ROTK videogame. As expected, there is no special 10-minute preview of the extended version ROTK set, as in previous theatrical release dvds.

At least the three DVDs look great together on my shelf... Heh. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 2

Tekken it to the next level

Another member of the Kazama clan joins the Tekken Tournament.

We've gotten some more information on the upcoming beat 'em up, Tekken 5.

On the newcomers: Asuka Kazama is supposedly a cousin of dark angel Jin Kazama, which explains why she fights so much like the late, great Jun. The Wesley Snipes' lookalike Raven is indeed a ninja and master of the elusive style of ninjitsu. And finally, Weng Fei fights in a style similar to that of longtime Tekken vet, Paul Pheonix.

Despite the ominous opening cinema in which he is apparently blown up with an army of Jack Robots, Heihachi Mishima is far from croaked (Come on... No one was fooled by that) and will obviously be one of the many time-release characters.

There will be as many as 31 characters all in all.

The latest Jack model is Jack 5.

Kuma/Panda will be playable. Other confirmed time-release characters are kickboxer Bruce Irvin and assassin babe Anna Williams (who either went into cryogenic freeze herself or is ten or twenty years older). There will also be a Sumo Wrestler present (may be Ganryu), and Eddy Gordo will be back as well (probably an alternate costume to Christie Montiero).

There will be some Virtua Fighter 4-style customization, such as adding little accessories or articles of clothing, extra colors, etc. These may be accessed through a 'Conquest Mode' of play similar to that in Soul Calibur. Expect tons of unlockables.

The gameplay will generally be more geared to the fantastic as opposed to the hype-realism of Tekken 4. So, expect lazers and other weird attacks to return. Yay... Fart attacks...

Finally, the Tag Team feature introduced in Tekken Tag Tournament may return.

The arcade version should be appearing in late 2004. Expect a home version on the PS2 by early 2005.
Gotta Getback them all...
Slight Spoilers Ahead

WOW! Animax actually finished the entire Getbackers series! This bishonen action series has been showing since the anime channel started airing months ago, and for the longest time the episodes looped over and over during the series' first major arc. FINALLY, several weeks ago newer episodes finally started to appear, and for the past several days the final story arc- which reveals part of the secret behind the ever-present Infinity Castle was shown. Former enemies like Makubex become the friends, and the heroes and their new allies face a new wave of enemies (who seem to show up from the woodwork, each with their own looooong backstories...). After various battles, the heroes finally resolve the fate of the ones who dwell within.
Contrary to how a lot of anime wrap up with gloom and doom and high body counts, the series ends with a happy-happy joy-joy ending, with everyone alive and well and looking forward to more adventures (if ever the producers/creators ever revisit the world again to wrap up the other loose ends). And of course the Getbackers Ban and Ginji driving off in their tiny Volkswagen, and sharing a brotherly (?) hug... Hmm...

This bodes well for when Animax eventually (and hopefully) shows even better series in the future, such as Inu Yasha, my absolute fave title, which has episodes in the 150+ and counting. More anime. MORE anime. MOOORRREEE!!!!!

Monday, May 31

Go Go Ninja

Chiaki Kuriyama moves from playing a teenage assassin in Kill Bill to playing as a teenage NINJA assassin in ancient Japan for the upcoming slashfest Azumi 2. And just what is that guy behind her looking at?

After she charmed (or terrified) audiences as the lethal schoolgirl/assassin Go Go Yubari in Kill Bill, what has Japanese idol and actress Chiaki Kuriyama been up to?

Well, her latest work is co-starring in Azumi 2, the sequel to the 2003 ninja-action/swordfighting adventure by Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus). Apparently Chiaki plays one of the good guys in this one, alongside lead actress Aya Ueto, who plays the titular heroine. The film seems to be still filming, so we may expect to find DVDs of this by late this year or early next year. Well, seeing Miss Kuriyama as a kick-butt ninja should be something to look forward to.

Definitely not someone you'd want to meet in a dark alley.

This is what the Crazy 88 looked like in Ancient Japan.
Death by Degrees: Nina Williams

The best female assassins always bring skimpy bikinis on a mission.

Nina Williams rocks. I remember about ten years ago (DAAAMN! Has it been that long already??), I saw this fighting game called Tekken and it blew me away with its cool graphics and hot fighting action. Of course, I gravitated to the babes and my favorite was the sexy blonde in the purple outfit and red nail polish. Yep, Nina was my instant fave, and she only got cooler when I saw the awesome linking throws and grapples she could dish out. An Irish-born assassin and expert in the martial art of aikido and bone-cracking, Nina was one of the original videogame femme fatales. Where other Tekken women have either faded away, retired or died, Nina remains as she is; it would not be Tekken without Nina.
Well, as if to celebrate her fame, Nina's getting her own action game. Originally known as 'Project Nina' several months ago, the game has gone on to be called Death By Degrees. Set years before the first Tekken Tournament (which places it about 25 years before the events in Tekken 4), this game promises to reveal more about the events that led to Nina becoming the stone-cold sexy killer she is today. The game's backstory has Nina being sent along with several other agents to infiltrate a cruise ship serving as the headquarters of a terrorist group known as Carrieta. This group is known to have possession of a powerful weapon- something that could possibly tip the balance of world power one way or the other. Nina is sent as a distraction, joining the onboard fighting tournament and winning as its champion. But when other criminal elements on the ship become suspicious of her, Nina finds herself being thrown into the brig.
The game starts as Nina is captured. Using only her skills to start off, Nina must discover the whereabouts of her fellow agents, find the secret weapon and save the world. Not an easy feat considering that there will be tons of enemies and more than a hundred areas on board the ship to explore.
Aside from her Tekken moves, Nina will be able to use firearms and other weapons such as swords and grenades. She can also use a sort of 'internal damage' system that lets her kill enemies instantly with one blow- unfortunately you'll have to get in real close to do this. She'll also be borrowing moves from Lara Croft, such as rappels, crawls and swimming.

The CG cinematics of this game look great, with Nina looking as sexy and deadly as never before. Other characters will make an appearance, such as other Tekken personalities like Heihachi Mishima and Nina's own sister and rival, Anna (who is said to be playable later in the game). I also saw a guy who looked creepily like actor Benicio del Toro... or was it just a really, really, really scruffy Brad Pitt? Hmmm.
Death by Degrees is slated for release on PS2 later this year. We'll keep our eyes out for it.

Sunday, May 30

True Colors

Phonewhore post! Phonewhore post!

After a couple of weeks of having my 6600 in a sporty, metallic-red shell, I finally went out and had the original cover re-installed on my cell. While the brightly-colored 'fake'/bootleg covers for cellphones are cool, from my experience they never seem to get the fit completely right. There's always a teeny bit of shakiness and a degree of off-kilter fitting. Plus, bootleg covers tend to be easily scratched and chipped- the last shell I got acquired an irritating nick the day I got it. Gah.
Anyway, so it's back to plain, everyday off-white for my 6600. But at the very least, the original shell fits perfectly, so the phone feels snug and solid and whole in my hands... in fact, it feels like a new phone. It was kind of irritating to spend just to have an OLD cover installed though- I should learn to do the installment myself. How these cellphone kiosks charge a couple of hundred to install these shellls is simply highway robbery. Sigh.
Love and Coffee

During the gang's Saturday night gig, we did a couple of things we actually haven't done in a long time. One was to have Carl with us, and the other was just to talk about risque, hypothetical situations at length and in depth. This time it was about remaking the image of the Catholic Church, and then later issues about love and relationships. It was just great to spend the time cringing, raising eyebrows, laughing out loud or just staring with shock at the answers to the various questions- some of which came from my own lips. It was refreshing, it was cool and it was great under the stars, under a giant parasol, outside a cool cafe with a nice drink in your hand and friends all around. You just can't have enough of that.