Monthly Archives: January 2017

Street Fighter V

sfvtitleStreet Fighter V is, of course, the latest in the series of games that got the fighting ball rolling. Which really isn’t saying as much as it once did because fighters aren’t what they once were. The days of them overwhelming this industry proved to be short-lived. Virtua Fighter is dead. Fatal Fury is dead. Dead or Alive is in deep decline*. It’s rare for a brand new fighting series to even be attempted anymore. But the old icons — Street FighterMortal Kombat, and Tekken — have survived on their name recognition. Almost the only other fighters that have done particularly well lately are those based on DC Comics and Dragon Ball.

How does Street Fighter V measure up? Not so well. While it does have a very Capcom competence to it, the way it shortchanges gamers is also very Capcom.

*Another reason DoA isn’t what it once was is because its appeal relies heavily on sex. And gamers are much more gender-sensitive than they once were.

Plot: 5 out of 10

The plot advances in the short stories in the Story Mode that tell you what role every character plays in this game. The character interaction in these short stories are very good, I must say. Everybody acts in character and the dialogue is strong.

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It’s funny how these chance encounters when traveling the world keep happening.

Only problem is that there is no Arcade Mode. That means that the characters have no endings. That hurts the plot a lot. I’ll further discuss how the lack of an Arcade Mode hurts this game later.

Graphics: 8 out of 10

One great thing about SFV is the graphics. The backgrounds and character models look incredibly good! You get a close-up look at the fine attention to detail whenever you perform a Critical Art (this game’s name for super moves that require you to fill up a power meter by fighting).

This bit is animated well enough to make us forget that Zangief's head should be violently impacting into the rock as well.

This bit is animated well enough to make us forget that Zangief’s head should be violently impacting into the rocks as well.

Sound: 5 out of 10

Music’s fairly catchy. It’s not great, but it’s serviceable. But the cutscenes in the aforementioned Story Mode have terrible voice acting. Lack of improvement in voice-overs since their infancy a generation ago is a sign of how Capcom has an unwillingness to shake things up when needed similar to Nintendo’s.

Gameplay: 4 out of 10

The controls work pretty well. Although there’s not much new added compared to SFIV. In some ways this doesn’t feel like an entirely new game. At least there are some brand new characters.

But that brings me to another problem. There are only sixteen characters immediately active, without recourse to buying downloads off Playstation Store. Mortal Kombat X had more. Tekken 6 had more. Injustice: Gods Among Us had more. Hell, Street Fighter Alpha 2 had more, and it came twenty years before SFV.

Another serious problem is the lack of an Arcade Mode. The short Story Modes are pale imitations. You can play online, but the lack of a traditional Arcade Mode makes the game seem incomplete.

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Does he go everywhere in his underwear?

Capcom admits that the reason why this game didn’t sell as many copies as were hoped for was because word spread that this game was going to shortchange gamers. The stated reason for the lack of an Arcade Mode was for a SFV tournament or whatever that Capcom was hosting. This almost sounds like a bullshit excuse because companies have been doing these contests and still made complete games for decades.

Challenge: 3 out of 10

The Story Modes are as easy as they come. They’re clearly designed to train beginners for online play.

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Notice how much life I have left. Some challenge.

Overall: 5 out of 10

Capcom is out of step with consumers, I’m afraid. With the shortage of built-in characters and no Arcade Mode, nobody should have been surprised that SFV sold about as badly as any game in a series this big could. It reminds of how NHL 15 did after a number of features that NHL 14 had were terminated. But that wasn’t this bad because NHL 15 didn’t do away with its Be a Pro and/or Be a GM modes. I realize that Capcom is in a rough financial spot, but screwing over gamers is not the solution.

Falcons to the Super Bowl, cheeseheads molded. NFC Championship recap.

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Falcons win!

Bears fans have to have absolutely loved this! You know, the Packers-Bears rivalry. Less elated is probably Drew Magary of Deadspin. He’s a Vikings fan and Packers hater who particularly gives it to the latter for its playoff losses in his annual Why Your Team Sucks previews. You see, he hates my Falcons as well because we ruined the best chance Minny’s ever had by winning the NFC over them back in ’98. Memo to Drew: get over it, it’s been almost twenty years.

But they’re not really what this is about. No, the subject is how a supposedly bad playoff team blew out its opponents in both rounds. As a result, we’re on our way to our second Super Bowl and the overtime win over Minnesota that I just mentioned is dethroned as the greatest victory in franchise history. Here’s hoping that record only lasts two weeks.

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Nothing could beat this!

The final score over Green Bay is 44-15. The scoreboard may say slightly different, but before Aaron Rodgers threw his last touchdown, the refs missed an obvious fumble and Atlanta recovery that should have given us the ball right back.

The offense did what you’d expect them to do. The scored 44 points and racked up over 490 net yards. Matt Ryan even debunked the myth that he can’t move in the pocket with he has to. There was one drive in which his protection and offensive line were breaking down, so he ran for 14 into the end zone himself.

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The Braves’ official Twitter got in on the celebration.

But what nobody expected was the defense pressuring Aaron Rodgers a lot, turning the ball over twice and holding Green Bay’s at least top 5 offense to 15 — shut up about those fraudulent last 6 points! Rodgers under fire all game despite having one of the best offensive lines at stopping pressures. This is particularly encouraging moving on to the Super Bowl.

Does Dan Quinn have the Packers’ number? It looks that way. He is now 4-0 against them. His teams have only allowed more than 22 points once, and two of those wins were blowouts.

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Dan Quinn loves Gatorade.

I read some prominent sports journalists claiming that Matty Ice is leading the MVP race. If so, he may have clinched it today. I think the Patriots have to slaughter the Steelers for Tom Brady to make a compelling case.

We get our third bye week of the season and then it’s time for the big show. What a great, great season this has been! And I believe at this point that we can win the last one. RISE UP!!!

Next week…

Pro Bowl Football

American Mary

americanmarytitleKatharine Isabelle as Mary Mason
Antonio Cupo as Billy Barker
Tristan Risk as Beatress Johnson
David Lovgren as Dr. Alan Grant

Gender politics have been in the spotlight recently. The women’s marches happening as I type are just the latest example. So it’s fitting that gender issues are utilized the subject of this week’s Gimili’s Palace review, American Mary.

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Mary had a little arm.

Does that mean that I specifically planned this film for such an occasion? Hell no! It just happened to be the movie I’d received from Netflix recently.

American Mary is about a med school student named Mary Mason. Mary is struggling to pay her schooling and even living expenses, so she takes up a variety of jobs that include mini-face lifts for members of a stripper group led by a weirdo named Beatress Johnson, who’s modeled herself after Betty Boop, and the granting of low-key sexual favors for men. Personal degradation and frequent association with the abnormal take their toll. When Mary is gotten drunk by her medical teacher, Dr. Alan Grant, she finally snaps and starts to kidnap those that she feels have wronged her and uses them as medical experiments. The practice this gives her as a doctor soon enables her to start a successful career in private medicine.

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From this to a mad doctor.

And yes, this is one of those kinds of movies. Socially relevant or not, it does not serve the faint of heart well.

Mary’s descent into madness is done well. We see someone trying to learn and eventually make an honest living but takes questionable decisions to this end. Writers Jen and Sylvia Soska show us that female degradation can drive a woman over the edge. And like the great stories using blue collar men turning to crime to feed their families, this one also shows that questionable shortcuts may not be worth it.

The other characters are used mainly for dark humor. Beatress Johnson is a true odd, annoying person who means no harm but adds to Mary’s frustration anyway. Another example is Dr. Alan Grant, who seems like an evil version of the character from Jurassic Park. Both have the “doctor” title and never seem to show any emotion. Only one would commit sexual assault, though.

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Homage to Psycho as well. These ladies must really love movies.

The acting is not so good, though the great writing covers that up at times. Timing and feeling are sub-par in the performances. Which makes for a typical horror cast.

American Mary makes its points well. It works even better as a scary, macabre gore horror movie. Just be sure that you’re into that kind of stuff.

Overall: 8 out of 10

The Falcons will win… I think. NFC Championship preview.

nfcchampionshipLook around the NFL, Dirty Bird Nation. Twenty-eight teams are no longer playing football. Yet our season continues. This is almost too good to be true. But it is! And it’s not over yet. We made it this far, we just might, to quote Tom Berenger in Major League, “win the whole f*ckin’ thing!”

But there’s still two games to win before that. The first comes this Sunday in the last game ever in the Georgia Dome. The volcano-hot Green Bay Packers come to Atlanta to play us, having just overcome a dead run game and secondary to upset Dallas.

Although the Pack has won eight games in a row, we do have some serious advantages in this one.

Fun fact: Dan Quinn is 3-0 against the Packers. Sure, the first to were as a defensive coordinator, but still...

Fun fact: Dan Quinn is 3-0 against the Pack. Sure, the first two were as a defensive coordinator, but still…

First of all, this will be the last ride in the Dome ever. You think we want to leave it with a loss? That will be one Hell of a rallying cry!

Second, if we can score 43 points on the Seahawks (we took a knee at their 2-yard line when the score was 36-20), 52 on the Packers is frankly not unrealistic. Their defense is that bad. After three good performances, it made Matt Barkley and Sam Bradford look like MVP candidates! Although Matthew Stafford’s once-great play was killed by a finger injury, he did wonders against the Pack’s secondary before again proving to be a wounded soldier in Seattle. And don’t let the playoff game vs the Giants fool you. They were dropping passes left and right, though I don’t believe that to be the difference in Green Bay’s 38-13 slaughter of the G-Men.

Third, if you want a Packers game in which they won less than the opposition beat themselves, look to the Cowboys game. Dallas committed an unsportsmanlike penalty that turned a surefire touchdown into a punt. Continuing on their bad roll, Dallas committed pass interference to nullify an interception on what turned out to be a touchdown drive. As much as some don’t want to acknowledge this about the great Aaron Rodgers, the Packers don’t win without these big breaks.

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With this country’s over-consumption, drug use, and under-education problems, maybe the Cowboys really did earn the “America’s team” moniker.

Finally, while our defense may be write home about, we do have Vic Beasley the sack leader of the the league. OK, he probably wouldn’t be the sack leader if not for the JJ Watt injury, but the point stands! If Dallas, with its dearth of good pass rushers, was able to pressure Rodgers a lot in the second half, why not us? Particularly since their offensive line got roughed up and probably won’t be 100%.

So the plan for victory is set: Score early, often, and hit Rodgers enough to keep the Packers down on the scoreboard. Falcons win. It doesn’t even have to be close.

It's funny to think of a potential game changer being an Atlanta pass rusher, but there you go.

It’s funny to think of a potential game changer being an Atlanta pass rusher, but there you go.

But A-Rod is a quarterback who can work a miracle. So you really can’t be sure.

Here’s hoping that the state of Georgia is celebrating a Super Bowl appearance on Sunday. RISE UP!!!

Retribution, playoff vindication, a great potential send-off, and proven contender-ship! Falcons-Seahawks recap.

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Falcons win!

We won the game that meant everything. Memories of the other playoff game that we won over Seattle, the controversial way that earlier loss to Seattle this season ended, and the tight race for the #2 seed, a bit of a rivalry between these teams has emerged. Look for it to continue because I believe they’re on our schedule next season. But for now, we’re the winners.

If this truly was the last game in the Georgia Dome, it was a great way to close it. A 36-20 win in a playoff game and wasn’t even that close. A second interception and a 13-yard run by Devonta Freeman put the ball at the Seattle 2, where we took a knee. I’m surprised by Dan Quinn’s practical play to win rather than shoot to kill approach. His defeated former boss, Pete Carroll, has never had any remorse about running up the score.

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Then again, Seattle’s a team with a 9/11 conspiracy theorist coach, religiously fanatical quarterback, and a brawling defense.

Simply put, the Falcons were unstoppable today! With over 400 yards 34 points (“D” scored 2), this sure wasn’t “playoff Matt Ryan.” It was just Matt Ryan. I don’t want to hear any excuses about no Earl Thomas. I heard the Seahawks-gushing announcers use this as an excuse throughout the game, but one player is not that important. We had to go without Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu for two games and still delivered.

Defensively, the team was just adequate. Russell Wilson was running for his life nearly the whole damn game, Thomas Rawls came back to earth after last week’s admittedly great showing, and Jimmy Graham was shut down. One issue I did have is that a secondary that has been doing very well for some time (even without Desmond Trufant) got beat down the field a lot this time. Then again, they can’t be fully at fault because huge returns by ex-Falcon Devin Hester kept giving Seattle’s offense momentum and decent-to-great field position. I kept wondering why Matt Bosher kept kicking to Hester. “Aim for the 30 if you have to,” I kept thinking to myself.

Still, this defense did its job, all things considered. It allowed just 20 on a 5-loss team. Can’t ask much more than that.

Anyone notice that Matt Ryan has kept wearing that Tom Brady glove despite his thumb being long-healed? A message concerning the MVP race, perhaps?

Anyone notice that Matt Ryan has kept wearing that Tom Brady glove despite his thumb being long-healed? A message concerning the MVP race, perhaps?

As someone looking for justice in this game, seeing Michael Bennett starting fights in frustration over Ryan Schraeder immobilizing him had me all, “this game gets better and better!”

Having said that, I must speak out against a tasteless joke told about a Seattle player by a so-called sports journalist:

Not funny, asshole! If he takes that tweet down, it’s Ian Rapoport joking that the knee injury suffered by Deshaun Sheed killed him. This is the kind of maturity I would expect from a 15-year-old troll.

Yeah, this game got us into it all right!

Yeah, this game got us into it all right!

Back to the game. The refs were almost as offensive as Rapoport, starting with them missing offensive pass interference on Richard Sherman. They also missed obvious details that forced Dan Quinn to use a couple challenges. So you can’t say they were in our pocket. That said, what is the argument for not making flags and no-flags subject to coach’s challenges?

Great win! Blowing out a good team can’t be taken for granted. RISE UP!!!

Next week…

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Pitfall!

pitfalltitleSorry if this disappoints, but I have very little childhood memory of Atari. Most of the gaming I did before the NES was in arcades. The only Atari 2600 playing I really did was in schools, day care centers, and the like (it was already old enough to be bought cheap). In fact, I best remember this company for the failure of the Jaguar that eliminated it from the console market.

Pitfall! is among the most praised games on the company’s most popular system. It was a platforming pioneer and provided action. So over thirty years later, I’m reviewing it. How is it?

Plot: 8 out of 10

Not that 98% of those who played this game knew or cared, but the protagonist is an adventurer named Pitfall Harry. Harry is going through a jungle full of dangerous forests, jumping and swinging on vines (a la Tarzan).

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“AIYAYAYAYAYAYA!!!”

This is pretty much a typical Atari plot. If there even was a plot, which many of them didn’t even have.

Graphics: 9 out of 10

Those who continue to love the Atari will tell you that the almost stick figure graphics actually have a certain charm to them because you have to use your imagination. As much of an excuse as that may seem like at first, once you start playing, there comes to be something to that.

Pitfall! has great graphics for this system. While a lot of characters in these games can’t represent what they’re supposed to be, everybody actually looks like they should in this game.

Sound: 8 out of 10

But the lack of music I can’t deal with. Part of reason why Atari never sold the amount of consoles that Nintendo and Sony did in later years. That said, the sound effects are really good.

Sure, Harry could just block the logs with his legs, but isn't jumping more fun?

Sure, Harry could just block the logs with his legs, but isn’t jumping more fun?

Gameplay: 10 out of 10

This is about running and jumping over predators, swinging on vines, and using crocodile heads as stepping stones.

The controls work just and more important, this game is very fun. The action gives you a very good time.

Gator bait?

Gator bait?

Challenge: 8 out of 10

Many Atari games never end. You just play until you get tired of it. This game actually has an ending. But it’s difficult to get that far. You have a time limit and level design is cleverly crafted to challenge you. But it’s emotionally rewarding when you finally do it.

Overall: 9 out of 10

A true gem of the first very successful console. I can understand why the kids who had Ataris liked it so much.

Time to prove the naysayers wrong! Falcons-Seahawks preview.

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Revenge is on my mind, of course. There was a certain no-call on pass interference that you may have heard of earlier in the season. Additionally, there were late hits quarterback hits that were not called, they just weren’t obvious enough to make the news.

But a bigger deal, at least for me, is proving that yes, Virginia, the Atlanta Falcons can win in the playoffs. Ironically, we were winning playoff games in the decades before Ryan, we just weren’t getting to the playoffs often enough to build off those wins. By contrast, the Matt Ryan era has been 75-57 in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs. So while Matt Ryan is by far the winning-est quarterback in franchise history, both Chris Chandler and Mike Vick have better playoff records, despite Ryan being statistically better in every way.

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I never bought this excuse either. LSU would have at least double its number of National titles if not for a guy named Nick Saban.

Are we headed for another choke? Doesn’t look like it. An in-depth look at quarterbacks’ seasons reveals that contrary to popular belief, they do not play well throughout the whole regular season, then fall apart in the playoffs. Noted choke artists of recent memory Andy Dalton, Phillip Rivers, Tony Romo, arguably Peyton Manning, and Carson Palmer all had their play drop precipitously in their last few games as the playoffs drew near on the years of their choke jobs.

Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has been playing as well as ever. Hasn’t thrown a pick in a number of games. His yardage and touchdowns are as impressive as ever and actually diminished by the fact that in all of the last four games, we got conservative if not took Ryan off the field in the fourth quarter because we were so far ahead. He was obviously playing much worse late in the 2008 and 2010 seasons. You could also make a case for 2011 because while his stats were good, we got blown out of New Orleans. 2012, the year we did fine in the playoffs, saw no late season regression. Also, choking teams tend to not do well in prime time games either (because that’s also a big stage). We dominated both of ours, but have struggled in that environment in the past.

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Overshadowed by the presidential debate or not, this was quite a Falcons moment.

As far as the Seahawks go, they’re the worst road team that won’t pick early in the Draft. And they come to what has a slight likelihood of being the last Georgia Dome game ever (Packers would have to play there, Cowboys wouldn’t). For the second straight season, their defense has been incapable of stopping the better quarterbacks of the league (no, Matthew Stafford with a bad finger doesn’t qualify), although it is really good against the run. The loss of Earl Thomas hasn’t exactly helped matters.

Now, it’s entirely possible that they can score points as their offense has improved. I’m not quite sold. 31 points on Arizona’s second-ranked defense is impressive, but being unable to get much offense going on Detroit until their unimpressive “D” got tired from having to stay on the field is not. If our pass rush gets to Russell Wilson, I can’t see us losing this game. If not, we’re only slight favorites.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Akeem Dent (52) during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Self-explanatory.

Here’s hoping for an appearance in the NFC Championship RISE UP!!!