Hoping for the Man of Steel

Hoping for the Man of Steel

Hope. Maybe the most relevant word to use when talking about the new Superman reboot – the Man of Steel.

Superman movies are tough. When you have a character who can’t be killed, hurt, bruised or injured in any way how do you make people feel any remorse? It doesn’t matter how many walls he’s thrown through, explosions he withstands or bullets he deflects – he’s completely invulnerable. That’s the problem with Superman as a super hero. Batman is mortal and has his obvious weaknesses, Spider-Man is tough but still vulnerable to bullets and even Iron Man is just a mere human with a protective suit. So what does that mean when making a Superman movie?

Everyone knows Superman will prevail – it’s the obvious outcome of all super hero movies – but with Superman, even a struggle doesn’t seem realistic. That is why a good Superman movie must dig into the character of Clark Kent; forget Superman. It has to be introspective; bordering on philosophical. We, as an audience, need to feel as if this man – although invulnerable from physical pain – has a soul that struggles to cope with his unique situation. A god among men. I’m hoping that having Christopher Nolan on-board will help with this. His writing has always been great and he did an amazing job resurrecting Batman. There is no reason to believe he can’t do the same for Supes.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. I have no doubt that it will leave a better taste in our mouths than Bryan Singers lackluster attempt in 2006. All the trailers already show a much deeper story and great action to boot. In the third trailer we see a clip where Louis Lane (played by actress Amy Adams) asks Superman about the “S” on his chest; he replies, “On my world it means hope.” That’s good enough for me.

The Man of Steel opens in theaters June 14th.



Ninja Turtles and the Future of Gaming

Growing up in the 80s – at the very least – meant you were part of an era where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were all the rage. The Turtles appeared in there first comic book in 1984 and have been part of our Americana ever since. From comics, to video games, animated series, and feature length movies to action figures – they were everywhere. But, today, I’m talking video games.

To date I have to say my favorite TMNT game was TMNT III: The Manhattan Project for the Super Nintendo. I would play that game for hours on end, lose the final battle against Shredder and then start all over again. The graphics weren’t amazing but the game play was fun and who didn’t like flipping the baddies over there heads and watching them collide with another enemy. Classic turtles.

So after years of playing TMNT video games, across all platforms and all ages, I’ll admit I’m a little frustrated about the latest installments. I keep waiting for the games to evolve but, alas, I’m disappointed. The recent remakes of Turtles in Time and the TMNT Arcade game gave me high hopes but, alas, they were simply prettier versions of past relics. Yes, the graphics have improved and the animations are crisp and more fluid, but I want innovation. Video games without innovation leave you feeling betrayed and bored – not to mention magnifying the guilt of spending $60 bucks.

With amazing graphics, powerful consoles, and online multiplayer this may very well be the best era in gaming history. So with a new live-action movie set for release in 2014 and a stellar animated series on television as we speak – why not welcome the next era of Turtle gaming in with a bang!

That being said, and with the upcoming TMNT video game, Out of the Shadows, releasing next month, I felt inclined to break down some innovative ideas for a future TMNT video game.

1. Open-World: New York is a great and massive city – above ground and below – who’s character could really shine within a TMNT game. Allowing the turtles to roam the city from the rooftops to the sewers would be amazing! The issue in the past with open-world games is getting side-tracked from the main story line, but to combat that issue brings me to my next idea…

2. Time-Based Gameplay: In my mind this could revolutionize an open world type game. Now, time-based games have been around before but they simply used time as a way to change seasonal aspects (at night the moon comes out, day the sun shines, etc), but, what if you used real-time to allow for certain missions to expire? Or certain missions to start? For example, you have 2 days to complete a mission in the sewers and if that time expires that mission is lost forever. This means you will have to replay the game at some point to try this mission out again. This could add some serious strategy to the game play that I believe would be an epic innovation.

3. Upgrades/XP System: This seems like a no-brainer in a TMNT game. Upgrades could range anywhere from weapon upgrades, defensive (shell) upgrades, physical upgrades (strength training), fighting upgrades, etc. You get the point.

4. Weapon Logic: How cool would it be to incorporate weapon logic into the game? Donatello has an upgraded staff at level 5 but his enemy has a katana on level 8 – which one wins? Donatello’s staff breaks and he is forced into hand-to-hand combat; eventually having to waste points on repairing/buying a new weapon. This leads into my next idea…

5. Weapon Usage: If Donatello knows his enemy will break his staff, why use it in the first place? You should have the option to holster your weapon in favor of hand-to-hand combat. The flip-side to this could be gaining XP towards unarmed combat when you holster your weapon thus making you a better combatant in the long run.

I’ll go ahead and stop at 5, but you get the picture. The turtles are such great characters to build upon and I really think they could usher in a new level of innovation and strategy within video games. Personally, beat-em-up brawlers get old and tiresome pretty quickly these days. I would love to see a game with such iconic characters as the Ninja Turtles really push the limits. Here’s hoping that day isn’t far away.


Blast from the Past: Flip-Phone Swag

Blast from the Past: Flip-Phone Swag

As of today I am officially without my trusty smart phone; unfortunately last night it was the victim of a freak drowning accident. Rest in peace to my Sony Xperia S.

I am now walking around with a new-age Samsung flip phone – which I have dubbed the ‘flipper.’ At first I was frustrated by the T9 predictive text and the horrible flip design, but I soon realized that what this blast from the past lacks in bells-and-whistles it more than makes up for in simplicity and function.

In today’s world of touch screen this and touch screen that I think we have forgotten how gratifying, and exact, texting with real buttons is. The tactility of each button, the subtle ‘click’ sound as your thumb presses down, the precision of spelling out each word; it’s an underrated and, sadly, dying art (insert Blackberry *sigh* here –> ____________). 

Don’t forgot about the form factor either. The flip design – revolutionary in it’s day – still maximizes the phone into a compact and durable package. I would even go so far as to consider the flipping action of the phone to be ‘cool.’ Don’t believe me? Imagine pulling the flipper out to answer a call and seeing the reaction of your friends as you give the phone a quick ‘flip’ to open it up – shocking? Yes. Comical? Probably. Cool? You’re flippin’ right it is (pun intended)!

The simplicity of the device is also overlooked. Sick of being bombarding by the millions of apps, fancy animated backgrounds or a gazillion ring-tones to choose from? Don’t have to worry about that with the flipper. It comes jam-packed with a total of 4 available sounds to choose from. I chose sound 3 – a jazzy little number – and left it at that. Simple. Easy. The camera, on the other hand, is a true laggard. My Sony, may it rest in peace, lead the pack with a 12 mega-pixel camera but this little puppy might be working with, well, a single pixel. The photos are tiny and pixelated to the point of uselessness – thus placing my habitual Instagramming on a serious hiatus.

I may just stick with the flipper for a while and see how I get along with it. I may get mocked, fall behind on my mobile-uploads, and have way more time on my hands but I think I can handle it. Goodbye 2013. Hello 1995.