Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Might this Unreleased Campaign Poster Have Made a Difference? We Will Never Know.

Disclaimer: This is in no way intended to express my
political views.  It is merely a campaign poster that the
Romney camp did not use and I happened to stumble upon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TGD Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Loving video games, especially retro ones as much as I do, Disney's Wreck-It Ralph was something I had been anticipating for some time.  So, after its November 2nd release, I did not waste much time in getting my kids to the theater on Saturday to see it.  I was not disappointed and I'll explain below why you won't be either.

The Plus Side:  Like the Pixar releases before it, Wreck-It Ralph is visually amazing.  The colors are vivid, the animation smooth, the characters realistic looking (Volkswagon-sized fists or not) and the backgrounds sprawling and downright artistic.  As with so many films before it, Disney has made the 3D worth the extra cost with this one.

On top of being visually stunning, the story sets up a video game universe that you believe (not literally) and understand without much explanation.  Game characters play their Toy-Story-esque roles during the day then travel through the power cables of their cabinets into the surge protectors (like a train station, one of my favorite images of the film) at night to socialize.  While there are a few made up games (Fix-It Felix Jr., Sugar Rush, Hero's Duty and Turbo Racer), the film pays homage to a great deal of old school games in ways that make you laugh.  Q-Bert, Sonic, Street Fighter, Pac-Man, Mario Bros. and more are all referenced.  Many of them gather at Tapper's for a drink after a long day.  The story also keeps you guessing and while you might guess where it's taking you, I for one was surprised by the emergence of the true villain, a plot technique I am not accustomed to with animated features.

The movie is both hilarious and heart warming.  You laugh on a regular basis at subtle references as well as slapstick.  The jokes are quick, clever and clean and the action keeps them moving along.  The moral of the story, like most Disney films, is impossible to miss and sappy as it is (I'm beginning to wonder about Disney's portrayal of their characters willingly facing death) it will still bring a tear to your hear and make to jump in your seat a little at its conclusion.

The Down Side:  Your kids won't get all the video game references in the film unless they have had some extensive retro game education.  You may find yourself leaning over to explain a joke or tell your kids who that guy is.  Or, like me, you may distract yourself by laughing and shaking your head at the inclusion of a particularly obscure eight bit character barely visible in the corner of a shot.

Other than that, not much is wrong, annoying or frustrating about this movie.  It's an overall enjoyable experience to watch it.

The Wrap Up:  Go see this movie.  You and your kids or whoever's kids you might take to see it will enjoy it.  This is Disney at its best with a memorable, funny romp for all ages unfolding on the screen.

And while you're at it, fork over the extra few bucks for the 3D.  The action and the colors jumping off the screen are amazing and fun.

I'm Still Alive and Here Are the Weekly Features to Prove It

It's been awhile since the weekly features were updated.  How long?  I'm not sure as self-regulation has not exactly been a strength of mine lately.  But that's all water under the bridge because today the features are brand new and there will be more content coming.  Exciting, right?  Temper your excitement for a moment and let's get to the top five things I love (hate) about Autumn...

5. Darkess later in the morning (and sooner in the evening) - I like that it's still dark in the mornings, especially because I work an overnight shift.  I get to rush home in the morning and crawl into bed while the sun is still hidden on the other side of the earth.  However, by the time I wake up I only have two or three hours of daylight left.

4. (shrunken) Sweaters - The crisp Autumn air is my favorite of the year and I relish looking over my sweater drawer and deciding which I will pull over my head to go out and meet the day.  Then I have to struggle to squeeze my melon through the neck hole and stretch out the sleeves for the next few hours.

3. Thanksgiving (aftermath) - One of my favorite holidays because it's all about stuffing yourself, which for some reason leaves me feeling bloated and stuffed afterward.  Weird.

2. School (drop off) - Having the house nice and quiet during the school year while my kids are gone feels nice.  Waking up to take them there instead of staying hidden under the nice warm blankets?  Not so much.

1. (wet) Leaves - The colors of Autumn might be the best, most iconic aspect of the season.  The difficulty of picking them up after they've had time to sit out in a cold rain might be the worst.

This week's cool-ass thing you will never own is your own urban farm.  Live in the city?  Love eating tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and kale (gag) but hate having to pay out the nose for organic produce at your local grocery store?  How about building your own farm?  All you need is soil, seeds, hoses, sprinklers, a greenhouse, some fans and a whole buttload of space.  Thinking about making one on your roof?  I hope it's not over your bedroom.

This week's sign you are a nerd is that you read books about comic books.  I'm currently crawling through Supergods by Grant Morrison in an attempt to look more serious and explain away the perception that comic books are kid stuff by reading an extremely wordy (though entertaining) argument.  I could have read so many comics in the meantime.

This week's nemesis is game updates.  Just as I started to find my comfort zone with Minecraft on the 360 and catch up to my kids' learning curve, they go and change the whole set up.  Now I have to sit through tutorials from my eight and nine year old sons.  Not at all patronizing.

This week's lesson learned is not to name the email folder that you are trying to hide online gift receipts in "Secret."  Finally, the Lego Minecraft sets are in stock so you order a few and plan on hiding them until Christmas rolls around.  Maybe you manage to intercept the package at the door and hide it in the crawl space.  But when your kid borrows your smartphone and goes poking around, they are going to figure out that the toys you received the delivery confirmation for are most likely not for you.  GFuess who is headed straight for the crawl space?

This week's analysis diagrams the evolution of the in game avatar:

Finally, this week's Star Wars quote is, "The last remnants have been swept away."

Monday, October 15, 2012

TGD Game Review: Fix-It Felix Jr.

It is no secret that we here at Transformer Generation Dad are huge fans of retro video games.  This is why our anticipation of Pixar's newest film Wreck It Ralph is already at a fever pitch.  Preceding the November 2nd release of the film, there is now game on iTunes that allows you to play the fictional video game from the movie, Fix-It Felix.  TGD reviews the blocky goodness below.

The Plus Side: Do you like 8-bit games?  Love the simplicity of the movements, the plodding forward game design and the 90-degree angles of the edges?  This has it.  The graphics are perfectly scaled down to make it look like this was a stand-up arcade game form the 80s.  You will find yourself playing and replaying trying to get a higher score each time and cursing Wreck It Ralph when one of his thrown bricks breaks a window that you had just fixed with great agility, leaping from sill to sill.

Perhaps the most charming aspect of the game to me was the sound.  There is authentic retro game music featured.  The title screen bursts forth as the game completes its load in a swirling fury of computerized notes.  Once the game starts, the laid-back tune that will stick in your head for weeks to come heralds back to the NES's Urban Champion.

Did I mention it's free?  I don't know if it is staying this way of if it's a limited offer, but you can have this title for no charge on Apple's iTunes store.

The Down Side:  As an adult who plays children's games on the regular, I often have the same problem I have with this game.  My finger tips are too large.  Large, fat, call it what you will, the directional pad on the touch screen of my iPhone is too small.  I regularly find myself in the thick of level seven scrambling to keep up with the destruction all around me just to find Felix is not responding to my commands because the meat of my giant thumb is simultaneously mashing against three directional arrows.  There goes my hopes of defeating my high score.  If you play the game on the iPad the impact on your experience of this design flaw is significantly reduced.

Along those lines, free games have their price.  In Fix-It Felix's case, the price is ads popping up at the bottom of the screen instantly as your game ends.  Thus, on more than one occasion I have already navigated away from the game screen to an ad for some sort of service I have absolutely no interest in because I was trying to jump down a level to fix one last window as I died and my giant thumb once again found errant placement.  The worst part is that once you jump to the ad's link, your opportunity to add your initials to the high score rankings disappears.

The Wrap Up:  Overall, this is a good game.  Is it perfect, no, but it will certainly keep the player entertained and coming back for more.  It's simple and amusing, it's fun for the whole family and the price is right.  TGD definitely recommends you download it today.

Well done Disney and Pixar, now let's see how you do with the tie-in film.

Full Length Weekly Features

I don't know about you, but with the commercials proliferating the television, I am becoming very excited for next month's release of Pixar and Disney's new film Wreck It Ralph.  So, to help whet my appetite for retro video games gone CGI, we have decided to start this week's features with the top five feature length Pixar films up to this point:

5. The Incredibles - An underrated volume in Pixar's collection, the adventures of the Parr family and their struggle to both mask and accept their exceptional abilities did just as much to make this movie enjoyable as the fast paced, epic battle scenes.

4. Toy Story 2 - A more enjoyable, funnier storyline in my humble opinion, but the ground work had already been laid by the original, which deserves more props.

3. Up - The most visually dynamic and outright beautiful of the Pixar films, it was the first to take full (and i do mean full) advantage of 3D.

2. Finding Nemo - Not only were the colors in it amazing, alternating from the full color coral reef to the grayish, hazy depths, but the story is one that a dad can't help but get choked up by every time he views it...or forces his kids to view it with him on Father's Day.

1. Toy Story - Know your roots.  The classic that revolutionized the animated feature will more than likely always be TGD's favorite Pixar film.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Who is Running Hollywood?! How is This Movie Not Already Made?

Zombies, mobsters, action, horror and CGI animation are all proven film gimmicks.  So imagine my surprise when I was perusing the internet earlier today and stumbled upon (not while on Stumble Upon) a Kickstarter project for an animated film based on a graphic novel with all the aforementioned elements involved.

Imagine my further surprise when I learned well-known director David Fincher was involved with the project and that the production idea had actually been first unveiled at Comic Con 2010.  How could something so impressively awesome with so many aspects of current successful films and the interest of already recognized Hollywood names need to turn to Kickstarter in order to get their film off the ground?

The idea in question is a film based on the comic series The Goon.  and as you can see by the following video clip, it would be amazing to see on the big screen (WARNING: the trailer is violent and offensive and not for children):

So, if you like zombies, mobsters, foul language, violence and animation (and really, who doesn't?) and you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, head over to the Kickstarter site and fund this project.  I'm sure the producers will be grateful, but more importantly, so will I because I want to see this yesterday.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Third Person Thursday, Throwback Edition: Fear Itself

It being October and me being too busy (translate: lazy) to produce any new fictional content, I skimmed through the TGD archives and found this four part story from October/November of last year.  I recall that I started this one not exactly knowing where it would go and it ran off on an entirely different direction than I had anticipated.  That being said, it is a little sloppy at times as most of my hastily constructed Third Person Thursday efforts are, but there are some scenes there worth reading still I think.

I will stop boring you with the insights to the process and provide you now with the links to the story's various parts.  Enjoy...

That's all for this week's Third Person Thursday.  I could get used to this throwback stuff.  It's way easier than writing new material.