Friday, April 29

Brawl in the Sprawl

Namco does streetfighting.

Namco, the creators of Tekken and Soul Calibur, are coming up with a new fighting game called Urban Reign. Similar to Sega's Spikeout Extreme, this street brawler puts you (and up to three other friends) in leather streetwear out to bust some skulls in the mean streets of an urban sprawl.

There will be a large number of characters to choose from (up to SIXTY!), with various specialties and skills. Aside from beating up enemies all by your lonesome, you can team up for over 50 double attacks, 30 special attacks and 50 team attacks. Urban Reign hasn't been given an exact release date, but it IS expected within 2005 so it will definitely be on present consoles.

Urban Reign will have its share of tough but sexy babes.

Hey, it's Kadaj from Final Fantasy Advent Children!

I've seen the trailer for this game, and it looks cool, though Namco is plainly using stuff from their other games- there are moves from Tekken (one fighter was using Capoeria) and even Soul Calibur (weapon moves). I've never been a fan of these 'Final Fight' or 'Double Dragon' type of brawlers, since they tend to have shallow move lists and characters, and the drab (albeit detailed) urban settings kinda bore me. However, this IS by Namco so maybe there's more to it. If you can customize wardrobes and characters, have more options than your usual walk-and-beat 'em up game and have good animation and action, I may check this one out.

Ganging up on opponents is the way to win.

Thursday, April 28


Good as gold for music lovers: The Nokia N91.

Nokia recently launched their new N91 mobile phone, their first music-oriented device. Yes, the phone comes with dedicated music buttons and is in effect a Series 60 platform device. Yes, the phone comes with video and a 2 Megapixel camera for really good pictures. But that's not all.

The clinker for this glamorous-looking mobile is that it comes with a 4 Gigabyte Hard Drive (OH MY GOSH) which will allow users to load up to 3000 songs. That's a lot of music... and supposedly, you'll be able to play tunes continuously for 12 hours from a full charge. WHOA. The N91 is most probably Nokia's answer to Sony Ericsson's Walkman Phone which is also coming very soon.

Well, the camera and the Series 60 stuff is good, but again, this is beneath me... I'd rather take a 4 Gig memory card instead. But DAMN... 4 Gigs on a PHONE! Boggles the mind at what can be possible in the next several months. Or next year. Hmmm. The Phone Whore in me is begining to rumble again. Heh.
Beyond Star Wars

Even though the Prequel trilogy ends with Revenge of the Sith, we can count on more adventures in the Star Wars universe from George Lucas, as revealed recently in the Star Wars Celebration event. There will be a new Clone Wars animated series, albeit this new series will feature full-length 30-minute episodes done in CG animation. Now, Genndy Tartarovsky set a high mark with the first Clone Wars cartoons, so it remains to be seen how Lucasfilm picks up the pace from the 2-D CW.
Moving on, there will also be a live-action Star Wars TV series! This series will be set in the time of the Empire, between ROTS and A New Hope. There will be few, if any, appearances of characters from the prequels; exact details are yet non-existent.

Hmm. The last time I remember Star Wars on TV was in that old, old, Star Wars Christmas special, and a Muppet Show episode featuring Mark Hamill. Needless to say, both were painful affairs to watch... fun, but painful. We'll see what happens when it happens.
Reel Deals

The classic Konami horror game Silent Hill will be creeping into theaters through Tri-Star Pictures. The game-to-film adaptation is already in production and will concern the investigation of a mother and daughter of the secrets in the ghostly titular town. Sean Bean of The Lord of the Rings and a shitload of cool movies has been signed on to play the female lead's husband. I'm hoping that Mr. Bean gets to play a good guy this time around, and perhaps someone who doesn't die before the end of the movie. Look for Silent Hill in moviehouses in 2006.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith kicks ass, at least according to comic big name Kevin Smith. The comic and movie scribe/actor posted a gushing review of the last Star Wars prequel after watching a special screening of the film held recently. Smith commented that ROTS is the film Star Wars prequel-haters have been waiting for (well, we'll see) and is many times darker than even the acclaimed Empire Strikes Back, and therefore benefits greatly from this. Silent Bob's early, spoiler-filled review can be seen here.

Another cool film to wait for is Kingdom of Heaven, according to our friend Ruey de Vera. Ruey already watched this Crusades-flick (lucky...) starring Orlando Bloom. The film features huge battle scenes that involve hundreds of thousands of combatants, placing it in the league of the LOTR battle scenes. As this is coming from Ridley Scott, we can expect grit and visuals that may parallel the director's past work in Black Hawk Down and Gladiator. KOH hits Manila theaters in the next couple of weeks.

Saw the latest Batman Begins trailer and I expect good things from this latest incarnation of the caped crusader on the big screen. Christian Bale looks good, Kati Holmes looks even better, and Ken Watanabe is bald and reminds me of John Lone. Hmmm. Anyway, this looks like a load of fun and I can't wait for June.

Still no word of Sin City hitting locally, which sucks...

Wednesday, April 27

Digital Manga

Seven Seas, the publisher of recent new manga titles worked on by some of our very own local artists like Honoel Ibardolaza, Jennyson Rosero and Kriss Sison, have taken a trailblazing step into digitizing the comic biz. The company has now made for FREE download samples of their titles (Blade for Barter, No Man's Land) in PSP format. Yep, the pages have been specially sized for viewing via the Playstation Portable's photo viewer. To date, Seven Seas has reported thousands of downloads of their new offering.

This is pretty cool new development! And the fact that some of our local artists are now viewable on such a widely-popular device such as the PSP is even cooler. Hopefully other manga and comic companies will follow suit and use the digital medium of phones and pocket pcs and PDAs for the distribution of grafiction.

You can check out the free PSP-format manga downloads at Seven Seas' website, here.

And I thought K.I.A. couldn't get any smalller... Heh.

Tuesday, April 26

Live and Kicking

Adam Warren and Rick Mays team up for Live Wires.

I've always been a fan of Adam Warren, ever since I was blown away by his art for Dirty Pair: Fatal But Not Serious and later, the two Gen 13 mini-series he put together. I've always been struck by his distinct, cute big-eyes style, which boasts very clean lines and great action and detail (especially in his later works). I have some issues with his writing- how his stories are a bit too text heavy sometimes, and his characters don't just talk banter in the middle of fights- they talk whole volumes. Nevertheless, I love the man's work, along with all his anime-pop culture references and the sexy babes and his wacky, if sometimes dark, plots.
I first saw Rick Mays art in David Mack's Kabuki series, and again it just impressed me with his clean lines and lovely panels chock full of movement and detail.

Bring together these two and what do you get? Livewires, of course. This title, written and laid out by Warren with pencils by Mays is a 6-issue mini-series about a team of artificial life-forms, or constructs (Don't call them 'robots', it's impolite), created by a secret, ultra-black government lab for the express purpose of taking out other secret weapons projects.
At the start of the first issue, we find a young girl apparently being taken on for a ride with one of these construct super-mecha, code-named Cornfed (since he's basically white-trash). In a typically straight-faced Warren method of exposition, he explains the situation to the girl as he drives the humvee they're riding into a heavily-guarded complex complete with fiery giant robot guardians.
Soon we are introduced to the rest of the team. Social Butterfly is a shape-shifting female whose specialty is affecting human emotions and reactions. Gothic Lolita is the team's powerhouse; a bruiser in black lace and eyeshadow who can punch holes in armor plated walls with her bare hands and feet. Finally, there's Hollowpoint Ninja (gotta admit that's a damn cool name), the stealth and infiltration expert. Then of course, there's the hapless tag-along girl herself, who's a lot more than she first seems to be...

Wild code-names, over the top action and clever banter, lots of pop culture in-jabs and pretty cool tech stuff are what dominates this title, which means it's Warren at what he does best. The art is very much like Warren's own; Mays does a great job of emulating the more popular style of his writing partner, but there are some rough points every now and then. Overall though, the pages rock with vibrant color, non-stop action and eye candy, and come across with likeable characters that have that edge to be considered a 'Next Gen' title for Marvel. It's cool, it's pretty, it's techy and sexy and it's darn fun. My kind of book!

So far I've got three issues of this title, and it just gets getting better. I can only hope that Live Wires doesn't fizzle out after the sixth issue, and that Mr. Warren and Mr. Mays see fit to continue the adventures of these trigger-happy 'oids.. however, I fear that few, if any, of the characters will survive Warren's bonafide mean streak which often ends up killing off characters quite ruthlessly. All I can say is... KEEP GOTHIC LOLITA. And Hollowpoint since his name is damn cool.

Get your copy of Livewires at Comic Quest or other well-stocked comic shop in the Metro.
Pizza from the Windy City

Pizza, Chicago-style!

Today I escaped The Salt Mines for lunch out and after juggling various possibilities, settled down for a meal at Sbarro's. Now, I haven't eaten at this pasta and pizza place for months, but seeing a huge poster advertising Chicago Deep Dish Pizza just reeled me in. I saw this lavish, overstuffed, layered pie some time ago on the pizza episode of the show Follow that Food, and I've been curious about Deep Dish Pizza ever since.
Of course, despite the fact that the pizza is a slab that they give you, I still had to order a pasta dish on the side (I really should cut down on my multiple course meals). But my attention for the meal was squarely on the pizza. It's actually quite good as a meal in itself- lots of ham and sausage in every bite, and the thickness is just sinful. Perhaps a bit too excessive and much- I don't see myself getting another anytime soon. Still, it was an experience. Now, if only someone opened an authentic, oldworld pizzaria locally, I'd be interested. Heh.

Monday, April 25

Killer Elite

One of my chief sources for inspiration in doing action and fight scenes is anime. Some of the fiercest, coolest and most eye-popping fights and duels to the finish I've ever seen are in animated form, in various action anime. Magnificently visualized in some ways that live-action can't quite match, these are some of the most thrilling moments of action I've seen onscreen (in no particular order of importance)...

Mikura versus The Black Scissors (Mezzo DSA episode 1)
Pastel-clad, pigtailed super-sprite Mikura, the heroine of this action-packed anime takes on the Black Scissors assassins, a squad of big, mean, nasty killers in facemasks and black spandex. This fight is the first and best in the whole Mezzo DSA series, with fantastic animation that shows off Mikura's agile martial arts skills and gunplay. It's all done in fantastic fashion, with walls and bricks crumbling from punches, bodies getting smashed through walls and an explosive ending that has bodies and debris raining everywhere.

Kenshin versus Saito (Rurouni Kenshin episode 30)
Mild-mannered rurouni Kenshin Himura faces off with a ghost from his past, former Shinsengumi Third Squad Leader Saito Hajime. This is, in my opinion, the best fight in the entire RK TV series, a title known for impressive action. Other fights are just too long, too drawn-out and fantastic- this confrontation between Kenshin and Saito lasts only for less than an episode but what a duel. There is true tension, deadly moves and a truly menacing air of danger throughout.

Nausicaa versus Torumekian ShocktroopersA (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind)
This isn't really a fight; it's more of a slaughter. In the post-apocalyptic environmental epic, the peaceful Valley of the Wind is invaded by an army from the hostile nation of Torumekia. Lead heroine Princess Nausicaa rushes home to find her father dead, a squad of rifle-toting soldiers standing over him. What follows is a terrific assault as Nausicca literally explodes at the assassins, laying waste to hardened troops in a few deadly seconds. It was this moment that inspired me as to how my own heroine, Angel Ace, could be when she really gets pissed.

Jubei versus Utsutsu Mujuro (Ninja Scroll)
Ninja Scroll is for many, me included, the definitive action anime film. One of the best fights in the movie is also the single formal duel, between two matchless swordsmen; Kibagami Jubei, the former ninja turned wanderer, against the blind swordsman Utsutsu, of the Eight Devils of Kimon. Again, a masterpiece of animation and action with great atmosphere (bamboo forests are great for swordfighting!), well-defined attacks and a solid (and final) resolution. Like real samurai swordfights, intense, brief and to the point.

Chun Li versus Vega (Streetfighter II: The Animated Movie)
Besides the obvious pleasure of seeing hot videogame/anime babe Chun Li in her undies throughout this vicious battle with the acrobatic 'Spanish Ninja', this long and drag-out fight pulls no punches and is simply awesome and I haven't seen its equal to date. The definitive girl vs guy anime fight. For best atmosphere, watch the one with the more somber, Japanese music score instead of the US dubbed version with rock music.

Ryu and Ken versus M. Bison (Streetfighter II: The Animated Movie)
The final showdown between the Shotokan boys and the Master of Shadaloo is often forgotten thanks to the Chun-Li/Vega fight, but I have to say that the two-on-one handicap match at the end of the SF2 movie simply rocks. The fight choreography is perfect, with the karate skills of the heroes put to the ultimate test against a seemingly unstoppable enemy. When Ken finally lands that first punch on Bison, you just have to cheer. Like the other SF2 anime fight, I prefer the version set to the original Japanese score, not the rock music US version.

Yu Ominae versus Fat Man (Spriggan)
The Spriggan movie should be a lot cooler than it really is; it's based on a pretty awesome manga. However, the best part is the first half of the film, as 'Spriggan' agent Yu Ominae and his comrades in ARKHAM take on the U.S. Mechanized Brigade, led by cyborgs Fatman and Little Boy. The climactic battle between Yu and his former boss Fatman is the high point of this anime feature, which is sad since it happens only at the middle of the movie; the rest of the time is then spent on boring scientific gobbledy-goo and a telekinetic brat with a baseball cap. Oh well, it's still a kick-ass fight.

A-Ko vs B-Ko (Project A-Ko)
This rivalry between childhood rivals escalates throughout this classic anime movie, between super-strong schoolgirl A-Ko and spoiled genius richgirl B-Ko, with the prize being the 'love' of the ditzy C-Ko. The final stage has A-Ko squaring off against B-Ko in her seemingly indestructible (and sexy) super-suit, set against the backdrop of an alien invasion (!). A bit dated now in terms of animation, but still this is anime fighting at its best and craziest.

The Paper versus Otto Lilienthal (Read Or Die OAV episode 1)
The Read Or Die OAV rocks, but really, the best part is the first episode (the next two episodes drag a bit). The climax is a truly masterful aerial action sequence between paper-flinging bookworm Yomiko Readman and crafty 'glider king' Otto Lilienthal (a true historical figure, btw) over the New York skyline. Perfect.

Jubei versus Gemma (Ninja Scroll)
It's only proper that one of the best anime action films has a suitably satisfying final battle, and this fight between Jubei and the leader of the Eight Devils of Kimon certainly qualifies. Bloody, bone-breaking, relentless and brutal from beginning to end, this deadly battle between vengeful swordsman and unkillable iron-armed fiend set on a burning ship features a great 'panning camera from behind a window grill' shot that blows me away everytime I see it. And the ending is just pure gold. Heh.

Try to check out these scenes for yourself. Next time, I'll go for best fights in live-action films! Heh.
Lazy Daze

Over the weekend a somewhat depleted gang (me, Vin and Andrew) spent the night at Chili's chilling. Talked about nonsense like reasoning behind the Jedi, the crappiness of the first two Star Wars prequels, and the upcoming Episode III movie, though admittedly I am actually kinda excited to see it. We also talked a bit about the storyline for the next Angel Ace comic, which was pretty cool to discuss. I intend to start writing down the actual script (which will be necessary this time around) in the next week or so. I want the next AA issue to be great. And I fully intend to draw the actual story pages myself- no shortcuts this time, I think.

Sunday was hot and stuffy, and I spent pretty much the whole day just cooped up in the climate-controlled borders of The Sanctum. Didn't write. Didn't do anything even vaguely productive. Just watched TV, watched an episode of Grenadier (Girl with Gun Anime in Ancient/Fantasy Japan which is pretty cool), played some rounds of Dead or Alive Ultimate and just vegged out. Which is pretty cool to do every now and then. Well, the week's in and it's back to the Salt Mines. Oh well.