Friday, April 15

Seven Ways to Die

When you hear the title Killer 7, what comes to mind probably may be a movie, such as the European 'Survivor with Guns' flick Series 7. Or maybe the newest, bloody and controversial Japanese film in the vein of Battle Royale. Well, actually you're not too far off... at least, if you see the trailer. The images are graphic and pretty disturbing. Various individuals, obviously experts in murder, stalking about and shooting or slashing apart various demonic beings that shatter into countless little spheres of blood. There's a man in a luchador's mask (Mexican Wrestler) blowing away baddies with shotgun in each hand. A town explodes with a force like a nuclear blast. A woman in a bloodstained white dress stalks monsters armed with a pistol with a ridiculously large telescopic sight. Maniacal laughter follows as the hideously grinning creatures are blown away. An old man in a wheelchair aims a sniper rifle at a target in the next building- a cute, seemingly innocent schoolgirl with angel wings sprouting from her back. It all seems like a nightmarish TV show.

What the Hell?

No, you're not in Hell. These are just images from Killer 7, an upcoming action-shooter adventure game from Capcom, the makers of Streetfighter and Resident Evil. Described as a "Post-Modern Action Drama", Killer 7 tells the story of Harman Smith, a 60-something senior citizen confined to a wheelchair. He's been hired by a 'U.S'-type government to assassinate Kun Lan, the leader of a powerful terrorist organization that is behind the sudden appearance of Heaven Smiles, the aforementioned hideously grinning monsters which are in effect walking time bombs. So how's a 60 year old cripple going to stop an army of exploding monsters and the terrorists that created them? Well, it's not appearances that counts- just what he has inside. Harman's got a unique condition- he's got seven distinct personalities inside his brain- seven deadly killers who can actually step out of Harman's grey matter and take actual physical form to dish out some pain.

The Seven members of the "Smith Alliance" are a varied bunch. There's Garcian, a dapper dude in a suit who's pretty much a take-no-prisoners agent and Killer 7's front man. He has clairvoyant powers and can sense Heaven Smiles when they are close. Then it's all a matter of blowing them away. Garcian is also 'the cleaner', and as such he cleans up the messes the other personas leave- so if they get killed, it's Garcian's job to collect their remains so they can be put back good as new. Cool, huh?
Dan is your all-around tough guy with the ability to ignite deadly fires. Coyote is a sneak thief who, like Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, is a 'Master of Unlocking'. Con is a blind kid who nonetheless can fight pretty well and move faster than lightning. Mask looks like a luchador (Mexican wrestler) with his mask and big physique- he's got the most firepower and the muscle to back it up. Then there's Kevin, who's a bit of an outcast, who uses exclusively knives to lay targets low.

Man, this game would make a great movie.

Finally, there's Kaede, the only babe in the bunch. She's a shy, introverted young lady who appears usually dressed in a lovely white sundress that seems perpetually splattered with blood. Oh, and while she's armed with a pretty large and imposing pistol, her main power is the disrupt enemy energy barriers and other obstacles by slitting her wrists (Yeesh) and spraying the surroundings with her virus-infused red stuff. Well, that explains the dress. Obviously, Killer 7 is an cinch to have a Mature rating.

Killer 7's visuals are pretty cool stuff, exhibiting the same cel-shaded look last seen in Zelda: The Wind Waker and the shooter XIII. However, the mad characters and the odd direction have me gripped. It's all so twisted and weird, like how the interface between your characters looks like an old style TV, and how thhe disjoined scenes in the trailer make it look like a movie.
The game will be played from mostly a 3rd person perspective, but actual shooting will switch your view to first person. The camera angles are also unusual, giving interesting views (which coincidentally give players a nice view of Kaede's bare legs as she runs down corridors).
I'm hoping though that all this weirdness still gives way to an understandable story, though the producers have said in some interviews that the game is meant to have an "open-ended" story (which means ya gotta watch it several times to get it). I've actually got high hopes for this game- a combination of those wild Japanese live-action movies and gritty anime (like the disappointing Gantz) where you can be the hero. Or better yet, SEVEN heroes.

This is pretty out-there stuff, and I love it. The best thing is that it's coming very soon! Killer 7 will be coming to both Gamecube and PS2 in early June 2005. Yummy.
Angel Ace JET

The next Angel Ace story I'll be working on publishing will be entitled Angel Ace JET. As the story goes, Angela Gale aka Angel Ace has been staying at Mike's place in Newhaven. Things are just peachy for the adventurer-fugitive-turned-everyday girl-next-door. Well, that is, until the pizza guy comes in with a salami special laced with plastique. It soon turns out that The Sorcerer is back and he's aching for revenge against those who put him in the slammer several months ago. And when the masked menace finds out that Angel is still alive, he ups the ante and brings in some heavy artillery to take down the Flying Princess once and for all.

This is a much more action-packed story than anything else, and will show off Angel's skills fighting in the air against multiple enemies. It was pretty cool drawing this the first time around at least a year ago, since I've never really drawn Angel doing aerial battle sequences until that time. Good thing that the pencils have grown well- I'll have to touch up several pages, but I think I can use most of the art for the release.

With K.I.A. looking like it's selling well (which is good for the book's price), I'll start working seriously on JET probably starting May. Things go well, we should be seeing the book come out later this year or early in 2006. Yep, Angel's gonna fly again... and then some.

Thursday, April 14

To Market! Market!

Doing lunch at China Star.

Today, the denizens of the Salt Mines threw off their yoke and hied off to the sunny land that is Market! Market! I've heard a lot of things about this huge mall complex, particularly about how jologs it is. Well, imagine my surprise to see a nice, roomy and fun-looking place with lots of places to eat and have fun. I'd love to get a chance to really explore the location- perhaps when I take a break or something. But for now, it was just fun to enjoy an office-sponsored lunch (celebrating our favorite suit-person Neenu) and then to make an ocular inspection of places to put ads. Still, afterwards I felt really sleepy after gorging myself on dimsum, hot-and-sour soup, stewed pork, tofu and shrimp. Darn, that was good.
Of course, the fun didn't last and soon the overlords had us marching back to work. Oh well. It was great while it lasted. Heh.

The wildlife here is pretty interesting... AAAAHH! MY ARM!!!

Wednesday, April 13

Megalomaniacally Hilarious

Read this.

Nuff said. Heh.
Gaming Bits

Went over to the gameshops after lunch. While other gamers were going ga-ga over Grann Turismo 4 or Doom 3, I got myself a copy of Rise of the Kasai, the sequel to the stylish stealth-action fantasy adventure, Mark of Kri. This hack-and-slasher puts you in control of the various Raku warriors- main man Rau, his vicious sister Tati, and their seniors Baumusu and Griz in a story that spans both past and future to save a hero's life and soul. The game, once touted to have an online component and/or two-player cooperative play, is not limited to a one-player experience, with players fighting alongside a CPU-controlled ally. This has it's share of hang-ups, mainly because of the A.I. partner's tendency to space out and act like a doofus when you least expect it.

Still, I'm pretty excited to play through Kasai mainly to see the intriguing story unfold through beautiful cinematics that have been described as 'oriental brush paintings come to life'. If only for that, I'll be happy.

In some other gaming news...

The next Xbox, or Xbox Next (Nextbox?) will probably have no shortage of cool fighting games, since a newly-released list of publishers for the upcoming platform includes fighting heavyweights like Capcom, Sega, Namco, Tecmo and Konami. Tekken is almost certainly a Sony exclusive, as much as Dead or Alive is sure to be a Microsoft Ace in the Hole. Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur, Street Fighter... hopefully we'll see where these flagship fighters end up when more is revealed this coming E3 in May.

More and more Playstation Portables are appearing in local stores. But you won't be seeing me plunk down the 17K for a unit anytime soon, what with games having questionable quality AND a high price of about Php3,000+ a UMD. This plus all those rampart rumors of dead pixels and screen glitches. Nah... I probably won't get a PSP until the fourth or fifth generation of games. Time will tell.

Where IS the next Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy XII? The game seems to have totally slipped every schedule or due date so far given, and we've seen nothing on the game or it's characters. I really didn't find the art or designs so far revealed to be that intriguing at all, so if the game's been sent back to the drawing boards, fine. Has the vein of gold that was FF finally run dry? Once again a waiting game. Sigh.

Can't wait for the weekend to try out some new Cheats with my new Action Replay disc. Nice stuff, like, all characters and costumes unlocked in the raunchy Rumble Roses. Or fiddling with character models in Tekken 5. This should be fun. Heh. For tonight though, I'll try to slip in a session or two with Tati and Rau. Chop-chop!
Body Clock

It never fails. If I have something at work that requires me to go early in the morning, I usually make it a point to go to bed a lot earlier than usual- say, midnight or so.

The odd thing is, eveytime I do so, I end up waking up too early, at which point I go back to bed and then wake up a couple of hours later, groggier than ever. BAH.

I had a nine o' clock thing today, so I got to bed at about midnight. Woke up at about 2 AM. Bile, bitter-sweet bile, rose to my throat and you know, that really SUCKS to have that taste in the back of your mouth. I go to the bathroom to gargle and try to clear my throat of the taste. My Dad hears me and then he thinks I have a throat thing like I did weeks ago and he says that I am still having that throat thing (which I don't) because I don't follow his instructions to gargle thoroughly hot salt water and swallow it after (Ugh). Well, I didn't, really, but then I didn't have the throat thing either. I tried explaining this, but gave up after a couple of fumbling words.

"No, no, it's not my throat- well it is but not what you think. It's just that bile rose up..."

My words trail off and I drink some water to clear my throat. My brain wasn't working well. It's darn 2 AM and I woke up five hours too early.

Flopped back into bed. Woke up again at 6:30 AM, an hour before my alarm clock rings. The thing is with airconditioned rooms, it seems to suck out all your moisture so my lips and throat are parched. I go out and have a drink of cold water, then flop back in. I hover between sleep and waiting as the seconds tick to the loud alarm.

So when it finally does come, I'm groggy. Can't complain though... I'm up and sleep has more or less given its quota. Off to take on the rest of the day. Yay.

Tuesday, April 12

Mindless Action

Over the weekend I got myself a couple of below-par fighters/beat 'em ups for the ol' Xbox.

One is Iron Pheonix, an oriental fantasy-themed multi-player weapons fighter. The game is set in a land that kinda resembles ancient China. As the story goes, a meteor crashes into the kingdom, and the metal found at the crater is soon made into powerful, magical weapons. It is in these weapons, and on the hands of those who wield them, where the fate of the entire realm will be decided. That premise is all the story we're going to get since Iron Pheonix doesn't have a Story Mode like most fighters. There's just basically an offline mode for non-Xbox Live players, and the more copious options for online play. Well, for the most part the game looks nice, but I've seen much better. With no real meat to the characters (which range from various males and females and the odd undead) and this game is just not my style. Probably cool for party gamers, but again, the lack of character, substance and presentation just communicate dull, dull, dull.

The other title I got is Spike Out Extreme, a title originally from Sega. This basically is a Final Fight-style battler, with players taking their chosen brawler out to put paid to various thugs and the occasional boss. There's a story mode, where you play as a main character chosen to save his estranged dad and defeat an evil gang. For the most part, the game looks good, albeit a bit retro. The action is all about using your punches, kicks and combos to get from one end of a stage to the other to fight a boss and break down a gate. Sega fight fans may appreciate the retro feel of the game- and the easy gameplay should please anyone looking to let off a bit of stress. The cheezy in-game cinemas are pretty hilarious, like an eighties American karate revenge flick- and we all know how good those things are. Well, I gave up after an hour. Wow. That was time well spent.

I guess I really can't express any more grade-A titles on the Xbox... or perhaps even on PS2 anymore. Soul Calibur III seems to be the last great fighter coming to the present crop of consoles. The next generation of games are already being produced right now as we speak, to so far unseen consoles and platforms. Can you say... Dead or Alive 4 on Xbox Next? Heh. We'll see. Anyway, I still have some cool games right now to look forward to playing: Rise of the Kasai and Brothers In Arms. Those should take up my time better. WHEN I finally get a chance to play them, that is.

Went to Comic Quest yesterday and looked over the comic rack. I looked for the sample copy of K.I.A., which I assumed had been mixed up with the other books. It wasn't in the rack. It wasn't in the nearby comic book bin or the big magazine rack for Summit publications.

Maybe someone stole the K.I.A. sample copy!

I'd actually feel flattered, instead of irritated, if this happened. But probably the copy was just misplaced. Still, wouldn't it be cool if someone actually took the effort to steal an issue? K.I.A.'s a steal! Heh.

Monday, April 11

Seen City

Best. Comic-Movie. Ever.

Walk down any alley in Sin City, and you can find anything.

That’s a line you’ll hear Mickey Rourke’s character Marv utter from the movie Sin City, and this seems to also hold true for here in Metro Manila. For literally, in some back-alley, I found myself a dvd copy of this Robert Rodriguez-Frank Miller opus. Now, suffice to say that I would NEVER go through the lengths I did for just any film (the only other film I can think of is Final Fantasy Advent Children). But this was Sin City, a movie that is touted to be THE most true translation of a graphic novel to cinematic form, and I just could not resist the temptation. It’s fitting, I think. Anyway, I did promise myself that I would NOT watch the film if the copy was bad- well, the picture is obviously a film transfer, but it is actually quite watchable- thanks to the fact that most of the film is in black and white anyway. It was the sound though- very good sound- that got me going forward and watching the whole thing.

My gosh. What a rush.

Sin City is a visual feast. It is, literally, a graphic novel, a comic translated into film seemingly panel-for-panel, image for image, character for character. It also seems to have gone through word-for-word, since the film has tons of dialogue- monologues, comic booky-lines and paragraphs of text uttered as blatantly as text boxes. However, it works. You watch the rich images onscreen and absorb every word and it works.

Suffice to say that this film is not for everyone. It doesn’t shirk from the expected violence gleaned from the source material. The hard hits are toned down by the fact that blood is often of a different color than red, or the comical reactions of some characters to getting perforated by bullets or impaled by arrows. Stilll, it’s not for the squeamish, though all of us movie geeks who loved Kill Bill will feel right at home.
As for the nudity, there are several scenes with frontal nudity, which I feel will get the censors’ scissors… get the DVD, people, for the full view of Carla Gugino’s perfect bumpers. Heh.

The blood and T&A aside though, Sin City is a menagerie of dark stories, interconnected slightly as characters from each of the three chapters appear throughout. The best of the three is easily The Hard Goodbye, involving concrete-hard thug Marv’s relentless, shake-heaven-and-hell hunt for the murderer of his ‘angel’, Goldie (Jamie King in a double-role). As I’ve heard and read in reviews, the casting of Elijah Wood in the role of the silent but deadly Kevin is a master stroke.

The Big Fat Kill comes in second, relating the attempt of shadowy good guy Dwight (Clive Owen) to protect the Ladies of Old Town (gun-toting, self-protecting hookers) when a fragile truce is endangered. This has tons of ladies in leather and skimpy outfits with guns, though it’s head superbitch Gail (played by Rosario Dawson who looks a UNIVERSE away from her character in Men In Black 2) and mute super slayer Miho (a thoroughly ninja-licious Devon Aoki) who own the screen. My only gripe is that Michael Clarke Duncan’s villain Manute isn’t given enough screen time or explanation. Otherwise, this chapter has girls, guns, swords, IRA hitmen and Devon Aoki jumping around with swords. DAMN!

Finally, there’s the chapter devoted to adapting That Yellow Bastard. This story is split, both beginning and ending the film. It’s mainly about aging honest cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis at his most intense) trying to protect the life of lovely Nancy Callaghan (Jessica Alba), a girl targeted by the titular Yellow Bastard (Nick Stahl from Terminator 3). Some say it’s the sweetest yarn, a love story between an old soldier and an innocent angel, and it is easily the most dramatic- though I reserve the sweetest for Hard Goodbye. Still, Jessica Alba is radiant, while Bruce Willis is at his most brooding best here. Can’t say no to that.

Overall, the movie is the same as the comics- dark, brooding and often depressing. But with the depression and despair comes courage that defies all odds and ultimately wins redemption for the blood-spattered souls in Basin City. It’s not hard to see why the Sin City books are so popular. I’m already a fan just from watching the movie.

Sin City delivers. Yes, I agree with the gushing reviews. Yes, this is THE most perfect comic to movie translation yet. It’s true, it’s true. The casting and imagery perfectly capture the comic. The performances vary, but all in all this shows solid work by an incredible emsemble cast. The men are men, the ladies and ladies and damn sweet. Ah, the ladies.

Darn great watch. Right up there with Kung Fu Hustle for my fave movies of the year so far. Gonna watch this film again with the gang at the theaters. Gonna get the DVD. Might even get the comics. What can I say? Sin City ROCKS. We want more, Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Miller. MORE!