Thursday, January 10

The Force is strong with Soulcalibur IV

Here's another one of those gaming news that's just too mainstream-pertinent and big to just leave at The Lone Gamer. The currently-ongoing CES 2008 showcases all the latest developments in games and gear, and is the place that Namco-Bandai chose to showcase their latest Soulcalibur IV trailer. Well, the new spot doesn't so much show new gameplay or storyline elements as it does the much-hyped surprise guest characters who will be appearing in the hack-and-slash one-on-one fighter. Well, the cat's out of the bag.

Soon after the sound of harsh, mechanical breathing was heard, another sound- that of my jaw hitting the floor- rang out. Darth Vader is in Soulcalibur IV. DARTH-FREAKIN' VADER. And Yoda too. Unfreakin' believable.

Not all is sweet and potatoes though- as of right now, while you can match lightsabres against magical metal weapons, apparently you can't pit Jedi against Sith since Vader will be exclusive to the PS3 ('cause it's black) and Yoda an Xbox360-only character (since he's green). That kinda sucks, but maybe downloadable content can change that eventually or something.

Rumor has it that perhaps the two master Jedi aren't the only Lucas Arts characters getting injected into Namco's slasher- there certainly is a huge menagerie of Jedi and Sith to use, though I have to say wouldn't this kinda make SCIV a Star Wars game and not a Soulcalibur game? Kinda like how the Final Fantasy characters stole the show from the cast of Ehrgeiz. But still, having maybe Darth Maul in the game would be damn cool.

Anyway, Soulcalibur IV's been given a release date of Summer 2008 (which resultantly gives Tekken 6 for the PS3 a release window of after that) for the PS3 and Xbox360. Gadzooks!
Hunting Season 2008

I love Ghost Hunters, and thankfully the creepy fun of following TAPS (The Atlanta Paranormal Society) will continue this year. Even better, the successful creepy-reality drama is expanding overseas with Ghost Hunters International, a spin-off set in Europe and other countries with long-time TAPS members like Brian and Donna heading up the new show.
What's next, Ghost Hunters Asia? Nope (at least, not yet). The next frontier is... the FINAL Frontier. Yep, UFO Hunters is the latest show from the creators of Ghost Hunters, and will follow a pair of UFO experts from the NY-SPI (New York Strange Phenomenon Investigators) as they investigate otherworldy experiences and other close encounters.

Man, this is great. It kinda makes me miss Nginiig!, that old local spookshow... don't miss the bad teen star hosts and the overly-melodramatic storylines and celebrity-possession-of-the-week though. Oh well.

Monday, January 7

Avatar 3.13 The Firebending Masters

Aang and Zuko pay an homage to Dragonball Z.

A new episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender aired over the weekend, and I have to say I'm very happy with what transpired. The latest episode, The Firebending Masters, picks up shortly after Zuko joined the Gaang as Aang's new firebending teacher. Unfortunately, once the lessons begin, something immediately becomes apparent- both literally, and figuratively, Zuko's LOST HIS FIRE. His firebending has suddenly become worthless, a far cry from the fury he unleashed in Crossroads of Destiny.
This seems to happen in every anime, show or comic I know; a bad-ass villain is a monstrous adversary, but when he/she turns good, they become wimps. Well, in Zuko's case though, there's a good explanation, which has to do with inner spirit and the source of firebending power. So, in order to regain his firebending (and gain something new), Zuko, along with Aang, go off on a quest to find those who know the forgotten secrets of fire- the mighty, fire-breathing dragons. Unfortunately, dragons have been extinct for years!

This episode is cool for many reasons- first off, the budding Aang-Zuko friendship is finally off in earnest, as the unlikely pair share an adventure together- the last time these two fought together was waaaaay back in The Blue Spirit in Book of Water, under very different circumstances. It's wonderful to note that they are each still nominally the same- Zuko is still the hot-head, but thankfully has none of the haughtiness and arrogance he had as the exiled prince. He even gets knocked around by a still-hostile Katara and Sokka, which may piss off Zuko fans a bit. Still, come on people- Zuko hunted them down for two and a half seasons. He can take a couple of episodes of roasting. In good time, they'll be good friends... count on it.

Anyway, the buddy episode is a bit light on the actual action, but there is quite a lot of amusing interaction between Aang and Zuko, a pretty cool revelation and some awesome sequences at the end- which is strangely enough not a fight or a battle but a DANCE. Between Zuko and Aang. I kid you not. I also hope this lays to rest ANY doubt that Zuko is indeed in with the good guys FOR GOOD. Oh, and there's a priceless Toph flashback which is just adorable.

Though not having stuff like any updates on Iroh or the baddies, Suki or any other plot points, the Firebending Masters is a really nice installment in Book of Fire, and a light-hearted contrast to the heavy emotion dredged up in the previous episode. Here's to hoping that the Gaang get into more serious adventures in the next episodes, due in the next couple of weeks. Later then!