Posts Tagged ‘Mega Man’

Grumplet – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: vs. Audience Indifference

August 18, 2010

I will be honest. I’ve sort of actively disdained the Scott Pilgrim franchise pretty much ever since I saw the cover to Volume 3 parody the Super Mario Bros. 3 cover. But the recent media blitz promoting the movie (and game!!) has left me practically frothing at the mouth. Look everyone! It’s indie bands and chiptunes and sly 8-bit game references and Beck!!! It has all the stuff you like!

I hate when I realize I’m being pandered to. It’s like it robs me of any enjoyment I could’ve gotten out of the experience without knowing. I don’t think anyone should be pandered to. It doesn’t help that a Scott Pilgrim movie feels about 7 or 8 years too late to feel thematically fresh. The advent of webcomics inundated the Internet with the quasi-wit of Generation Y slackers that grew up on the NES and the Streamline dub of Akira. Hey guys, the sprites from Final Fantasy are talking about Ranma 1/2! Isn’t that just the geekiest?

Scott Pilgrim, penned and illustrated by Brian Lee O’Malley became the poster child for this vein of storytelling. Geek culture-addled Scott Pilgrim has to fight the seven evil exes of too-cool-for-school Ramona Flowers if he wants to date her. These battles take on a video game-like progression of difficulty, complete with the exes exploding into coins, etc. This EPIC TALE proved so irresistible to the Hollywood graphic novel adaptation mill that the film rights were snapped up by Universal and Edgar Wright, keen pop culture satirist, tapped to direct.

I will admit, Edgar Wright was the ONLY reason I saw this movie. The creative force behind Shaun of the Dead and the much-funnier, much-less-seen Hot Fuzz, has proven to me by now that he has an eye for genre bending, humor, and doing justice to the subject matter he simultaneously lampoons. Hot Fuzz was not only a comedy about the ridiculous nature of action movies, it was also one of the best action movies in recent years.

Why am I harshing on Scott Pilgrim: The Franchise?! Because it’s like we have nothing to say to each other. Scott Pilgrim touches on River City Ransom, Ninja Gaiden (the original), Mega Man, A Link to the Past, the NES and SNES and many other things I never owned or played. Yet I’m still a gamer! I grew up with a Genesis! I played Sonic! I think there were two Genesis allusions the whole movie. And as for anime and music? It references Akira in one of the chapter titles, Scott wears a t-shirt with Astro Boy on it and the character’s name is from a song from some indie band I’ve never heard of. He’s like that guy at a party you try to start up a conversation with, and he’s like, “Yeah, I game. Ever heard of Final Fantasy II for the SNES?” “Oh, you mean Final Fantasy IV?” “No, pretty sure it was Final Fantasy II.” Awkward silence. I mean, it’ll resonate for a lot of 20-somethings out there, but it’s awfully specific in its aim.

So you’re probably expecting me to hate the movie. But I didn’t! Why?! Mostly because that pop culture divide is largely irrelevant when it comes to enjoying the movie. Will you get more out of it if you’ve played DDR or beat ’em ups? Sure. But the searing eye candy Edgar Wright coughed up is enough to entertain any movie goer who appreciates fast-paced film making. And this movie is nearly at Baz Luhrman levels of frenzy. Shots are cut at a blistering pace. CG embellishments make the actors look like comic book characters brought to life. Seriously, this is the first movie that seems like it took a few plays out of the Speed Racer handbook of visual vocabulary. (There’s that made-up term again!) And it’s not just visuals that delight. The dialogue is actually clever and delivered with comic timing for a change.

The music is actually pretty well done for the most part, too. Beck actually composes all of the music for the fictional band Sex Bob-omb and the score is composed by alt-rock superproducer Nigel Godrich, who’s worked with stars like Beck and Radiohead on some of their landmark albums. The soundtrack is loaded with indie acts and garage rock riffs, and totally fits the misfit tone of the movie.

It’s just too bad being good didn’t guarantee success. Limping out of the gate with a paltry $10 million when estimates put the movie at around $60 million, Wright’s most expensive movie to date, certainly makes eyebrows raise. Why would a movie that seemed like such a cultural zeitgeist flop so badly? It hasn’t been through lack of marketing that Scott Pilgrim failed, that’s for sure. It’s proooooobably because its target audience isn’t known for paying for anything. Teens and twentysomethings these days get their nostalgia gaming kick not by dusting off the NES or SNES, but by downloading ROMs and emulators. They peer-to-peer share their music collections. Plus they’re a notoriously poor demographic. They probably would rather see a cam rip of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World than fork over the $10 per person to go to the theater and see it legitimately. Then there was the aforementioned rather limited scope of the appeal. Maybe not as many people have fond memories of Clash at Demonhead or listen to chiptune albums as they thought. At any rate, a perfectly entertaining movie suffered because of it. For shame, readers!

Mega Man 10 – The Robots Are All Right

August 8, 2010

Let’s cut to the (Rockman Battle and) chase. Mega Man 10 is not as good as Mega Man 9. Which is okay. Mega Man 9 was the result of 18 years of game design knowledge funneled into a perfect downloadable package. It spoke right to the cereal-munching, Saturday morning cartoon-watching kid in me. It is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, the best Mega Man game, which makes it one of the best video games, and a tough act to follow.

Though Mega Man 10′s still pretty good!

speed racer and racer x

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Grump Talk: Listen to How an Idiot Plays Mega Man

April 26, 2010

This is going to be part of a new shift in how we do things here at Grump Factory. Real life gets in the way of perfecting the lovingly-crafted articles you’re used to reading here, and I feel guilty not having more content up in regular intervals, so we’ve decided to add some more traditional blog-like posts with short rants or snippets of opinions on stuff we probably won’t ever talk about in-depth. In other words: Grump Talk.

And today I’m focusing on my nemesis, Mega Man.

You might remember my scathing, incendiary piece on Mega Man 9 a few years ago. Back then I couldn’t even get past the third elephant on the stage! I was so upset about the unfairness of the obstacles in the game that I gave up on it for a long time. But then boredom set in one day, I tried it again and figured out the pattern of the elephant and got to the end of the demo! Amazing! I still wasn’t in love with the damn thing, but I was more curious and open-minded to exploring the franchise that millions of people so obviously love, so I decided to download the Mega Man 10 demo when that rolled around and found myself not having as difficult a time as I had been before. I had even picked up the stupidly cheap Prinny platformer inbetween, and got pretty far! Maybe I could lick this thing, yet!

So I decided to buy Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the PS2 and figure out what I’d been missing, and see if I could discover what makes Mega Man such a video game icon after all this time. I started out with Cut Man because, I dunno, I wanted to! I’m not having too much trouble with the stage, some familiarly cheap enemies, but nothing that sent me raging. I actually got to Cut Man on my first continue, only to get killed by his weapon after I’d already killed him. WHAT. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen! Why doesn’t his blade disappear after he dies?! I had to start everything all over again and continue the stage from the beginning. I was seething, but promised myself I’d give the game a try until I’d at least beaten one robot master. So I clawed my way back and beat him FOR REAL this time BECAUSE APPARENTLY YOU CAN BEAT THEM AND STILL LOSE. I got a little pinwheel thing! Great!

So then I pushed my luck and tried out Bomb Man’s stage. Again, not too many parts of the level that pissed me off, except for those little armored things that fly around and shoot in all eight directions. Seems a bit cheap, if you ask me! I fall down into Bomb Man’s pit and beat him on the first try. This isn’t so bad!

But I’m noticing some things. First of all, Mega Man slides after he lands from a jump, and I hate it when platformers do this. Secondly, I haven’t used any weapon besides my Mega Buster yet, and I wonder if I will ever feel the need to. Most things die in three hits from it. I don’t really feel the need to experiment with stuff yet, and I wonder if I’m just missing the point of the game. I don’t like firing them willy-nilly because they require energy…

This may become a thing, folks! Stay tuned!

MEGA MAN 9 – For Everlasting Fun

September 23, 2008

In Ratatouille there’s a scene in which the grumpy old food critic Anton Ego takes a bite of Remy the rat’s titular dish and he recalls a memory of a time when he was small, wide-eyed and innocent. Everything was simpler, everything was fresh, the sun shined a little brighter, and mom was there to cook his favorite food. Anton’s bitter, jaded defenses, built over years of tasting the same bland junk over and over again, crumbled against the might of Remy’s refined technique and mastery over what is called a “peasant dish”, something boring, nothing special. He took what is common and plain, saw what worked, saw what didn’t, remixed it, kept it simple and ended up with something extraordinary, something even an ultragrump could not only appreciate but stack up next to the best dishes of the past.

This is exactly (well, maybe not exaaaactly) the situation Capcom and I are in. After years of tepid sequels and endless spin-offs the chefs at Capcom scanned their vast history, reworked their basic recipe and gave me, er, us the best Mega Man game since Mega Man 2, or Mega Man X. Playing Mega Man 9 flashes me back to those Saturday mornings full of Captain N, Super Mario Cereal and hot chocolate me mum made for me. Fueled by sugar and early morning sunlight – or better: dreary, gray rain! – I waged war against Dr. Wily and his creations for everlasting peace. 18 years later, I’m a little taller and really unshaven, but I’m the same Nintendo-loving kid stuck in arrested development. I rolled out of bed, downloaded MM9 on the Wii and turned the Wii-mote sideways to better resemble a NES pad. The opening title revealed old-school pixel art and 8-bit sound. It was Saturday morning again.

you now have mega man music in your head
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