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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Delayed Features

After a busy weekend with the kids, filled with Autumn activities (there may have been a pumpkin patch, apple orchard and state park involved) something had to be trimmed from my schedule and, like usual, the weekly features suffered as a result.  But two days late is better than never and we start this week's features by anticipating next week's arrival of The Walking Dead: Season 3.  While I think the show has done a pretty good job overall (almost as good as the comic version) there have been a few frustrating portrayals of zombie characteristics that have irked me.  So, the top five list will be the top five errors in zombie portrayal in television and film:

5. How do they not eat one another? - I get that every death of natural causes results in another zombie. I get that they bite the occasional victim who manages to then make good their escape only to be turned over to side of the zombie hordes later.  I get this increases their numbers.  What I don't understand is how, in moments of no other food source, how they just don't start taking bites off one another.

4. Strength - Can a normal human of average strength rip open the torso of another living human and disembowel them?  No.  How then can a half-rotted, muscularly-atrophied walking corpse find the arm strength to do so?

3. Speed - I am going to make a singular, simple bold statement upon which all zombie portrayals should be based: Zombies cannot run!  Everyone knows that the way they catch you is not by chasing you down, but by your allowing yourself to get surrounded or trip over some inevitable obstacle which breaks your leg and immobilizes you.  The following words are acceptable to describe zombie movement: hobbling, limping, lumbering, lurching, shuffling, shambling, stumbling, hobbling, walking.

2. Problem-solving - When a zombie sees you behind a window, it walks head first into that window.  It does not look around for a different way to get in or pick up something to smash the window with.  the only way that window will be broken and the zombie will gain access will be if enough others congest behind it and break the window through sheer pressure of their combined weight against it.

1. Facial expressions - Far too many times I have seen a mindless corpse glance at its potential prey and either narrow its eyes or flash an evil smile.  There should be no emotion whatsoever on the part of any zombie.  No happiness over discovering an unprotected, vulnerable meal, only the instinctive registration of a food source that results in a change of direction at the same speed previously attained toward said food source.  Also, it should be hard to smile when the zombie's lips rotted off weeks ago.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mr. Parker, Mr. Stone, You Have Done it Again

When done correctly, satire is the most powerful comedic tool in the universe.  It is the Death Star of comedy, able to lay waste to all other forms with a single well-focused attack.  Now imagine that the Rebel Alliance had never destroyed the Death Star...or the second, not as aesthetically pleasing but still fully operational Death Star.  Imagine that it had been allowed to "position itself" all over the galaxy and crush any hint of rebellion in its tracks.  Such a reign would be terrifying, but since we are talking about satire here, it would be hilarious...terrifyingly hilarious.

I have been a long time fan of South Park.  Sure, at first it was just how crude both the paper cut out style animation and jokes were.  As the years went on, however, the razor sharp edge of the show's humor sliced through all sorts of topic that were previously considered taboo.  Whether it be religion, racism, disabilities or comedy itself, nobody has escaped the rapier wit and ruthless criticism of South Park's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

And that is really the key.  If they made fun of only the people that disagreed with their social, political or personal views, their satire would be just plain mean.  But the genius of South Park's humor comes from the fact that they think that we are all ridiculous idiots and somehow manage to make us realize that they are right, we all suck.  To top it all off, they turn the microscope of their satire inward occasionally and admit their own shortcomings.

In their latest episode, South Park poked fun at obesity, our obsession with shows like Honey Boo Boo (my favorite moment coming when they point out that it is on The Learning Channel) and James Cameron's love of himself.  In doing so, they pointed out that the bar had sunk to an all time low.  That was, in fact, what James Cameron had dove into the depths of the ocean to try and find.  Once the bar was discovered, they suggested that South Park itself might bear some of the responsibility.  They managed yet again to make fun of everybody, including themselves with a distinct start-to-finish story line, not just random jokes.

That is how satire is done.  Take notes, Family Guy.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Third person Thursday, Throwback Edition: Exceptional - Book 2

As promised, Third Person Thursday this week looks back to the second book in our super hero serial, Exceptional.  If you didn't read Book 1 last week, you can find all the links here.  Once again, all of these portions of the story were created with very little free time and when I look back at them myself they seem at times sloppy, but they are what they are.  If I were to try and get them published I would go over them with a fine tooth comb and change a lot of things, but for the likes of you all, they should do.  I'm kidding, of course.  Enjoy.

Now that that's over, I'm looking into rerunning another serial next week.  Let me know if you enjoyed (or didn't for that matter) reading this one.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Celebrate Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week!  Yes, it started Sunday September 30th, but it's never too late to get on board with a worthy cause.  To think that books like The Lord of the Rings, The Grapes of Wrath and Brave New World were all at one time banned or challenged is really pretty ridiculous.

While I am not currently reading a banned book, per se, the book I am reading (Supergods by Grant Morrison) explores in its early chapters the backlash against comic books and the moral outrage and vilification of comic books during a certain period.

To celebrate and to exercise your freedom to read what you want, I encourage you all to pick up a title that was at one time banned or challenged.  Check out the Banned Books Week site to get a listing.  You should also take a look at artist Grant Snider's blog, Incidental Comics, for a timely comic discussing banned books you can purchase in poster form.

Of course, I would also love to hear from you about what book you are currently reading.  or perhaps you would like to discuss one of the books you are surprised to see on the list, or maybe even a title that you can't believe isn't on the list.  Regardless of the specific topic, I'd love to hear from you about your feelings on banned books.

Unless you decided to read Catcher in the Rye.  Keep that to yourself.  I think being banned gave that book more street cred than it deserved.  Holden Caulfield is a real dick.

Monday, October 1, 2012

"The Time Has Come," the Walrus Said, "to Admit Your Team Was Lame."

I dislike Aaron Rodgers.

You may wonder why.  The guy seems to be so likable after all to the rest of the nation, appearing in commercials, winning a Super Bowl and being arguably the best quarterback in the NFL.  You probably insist that I am either jealous or allowing my love of the Bears to influence my hatred of a rival, nay, the rival team's quarterback.  While I have nothing against his commercials and certainly recognize his stellar play, my dislike of the Packers' #12 is based on a fairly simple, fairly solid sports principle that I adhere to: act like you've been there before.

I am no fan of celebration.  Strike that, I love to celebrate and do so as often as I can and expect a team that just scored a touchdown to celebrate as well.  What I dislike is choreographed celebrations.  Getting together with your teammates and jumping around and high-fiving as you make your way back to the bench is great.  Spontaneous joy over an achievement is perfectly acceptable. Such celebrations can even take the form of recurring traditions and still hold their charm in my mind.  Just to show I have no ill will (on this subject matter, at least) against the Packers, I will use their Lambeau Leap as an example.  When one of their players scores a touchdown, they jump up into the waiting arms of the fans in the end zone to celebrate.  That is a fantastic tradition.  That I can abide.

This I cannot:

Behold the Discount Double Check
When you have a prepared celebratory move devised, you are, in my book, a douche bag.  This goes double when your touchdown celebration involves a symbolic proclamation to be a heavyweight champion and triple when it involves a forward crotch thrust.  Aaron Rodgers is guilty of all three.  (Note: any defensive players performing the Discount Double Check after sacking Rodgers are also, for the record, lame based both on the grounding principle of this argument as well as the fact that they are even less original for just copying an opposing player's move)

But the offenses against subtlety by the Packers' QB do not end there.  He has been spotted by yours truly celebrating a few other on-field accomplishments as of late that manage to somehow be even more annoying.