Tag Archives: pop culture please

PCP: Stick Fighters vs. Snakes

Watching Wednesday #24 – Well Rounded

I took most of this week off, so I’ve been trying to do some recovery type stuff to feel better physically and emotionally. Part of that has been, admittedly, just lazing about and enjoying some good ol’ fashioned media. Berserk continues to be a fascinating, disturbing journey and Shadow of War is still pretty fun and all.

This is a simpler pleasure. It’s a neat little indie game (made by a frequent poster on the /r/gamephysics subreddit ) played by some neat dudes with some neat editing.

I mean, it’s got a “Guns that only shoot snakes” mode and some friends having genuine fun.

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PCP: Westworld

Watching Wednesday #23 – Wicked Ways

The Wild Wild West (We’re Going Straight to)

The short of it: Pro: excellent plot, storytelling, music, acting, choreography, setting. Con: No giant steampunk spiders

Fine, I’ll say it. Westworld kicks off harder than Game of Thrones.

To be fair, androids broaching sentience and a park for the darkest of human desires is easier to sell than medieval political intrigue. Both have plenty of radical murders though.

Westworld delivers this puzzle that leaves you grasping at straws rather than pieces, because it can’t be that obvious. And then it is. Then it isn’t.

My edge lord description of it is “It’s like if Jurassic Park had androids and didn’t suck.” The idea of a whole “world” dedicated to man’s recreation of life is fascinating; the fact it’s a world meant for amusement, not reflection or evolution, opens up a whole new level of questions.

PCP: Ramin Djawadi’s “Paint It Black”

Monotony Monday #23 – Morphing Maniacal Melodies

A Fresh Coat of Paint It Black

The short of itWestworld manage to reinvigorate one of the most tired covers out there by pairing it with near perfect choreography. 

So I just started watching Westworld (guess what’s coming up for WW #23) and holy smokes, cowboy. It’s hard to turn off, partially because of its captivating performances and stories and partially because I accidentally kicked the remote out of reach.

Point is, it’s really good. Some of the scenes are just so masterfully composed that I keep replaying them in my head. The foremost scene that’s been on a loop in my brain is the heist scene.

Everything is just so radical. The quick spins during gunfire, the sweet lines, and, most of all, that kickass rendition of “Paint It Black.”

Let’s be honest though, it’s a song with one too many covers.

From the good,

to the okay,

to the no-one-asked-for-this version.

Point being, this song is very easy to screw up in its application. It’s pretty tired as a song itself; hell, there’s basically an entire game based on the song.

So when the heist scene rolls up and those woodwinds and horns start swelling, damnit, it makes sense that it costs $40,000 a day to stay in Westworld. Rodrigo Santoro’s handsomely scarred face and killer black outfit make him the outlaw of everyone’s dreams, especially when backed by Djawadi’s composing. Everything in this scene just works so well. It’s got me unironically humming that “dun dun dun dun dun dun” every second I’m not watching Westworld.

 

PCP: Trials Fusion

Fun Fridayz #20 -Frenzied Flash Feels

A Fusion of Fun and Frustrations

The short of it: It’s got wheels, and they run wild.

Once again, I get my dose of gaming variety through the Games with Gold program.

Trials is arguably a classic of the seventh generation. It was a flagship of the Xbox Arcade and a standard of any Let’s Player of the past few years.

And it’s fine. It’s like every bit of gameplay you’ve seen from it or its predecessors. It’s fun enough and checks all its boxes.

The problem I run into is the delayed satisfaction– or at the very least, the delayed possibility of satisfaction. I admit to being obsessed with achievements, despite the fact that I still haven’t broke 100,000. Yet.

Trials’ campaign of sorts is a series of worlds, each with their own levels and minigames. Each level comes with three varying challenges, like don’t tilt backwards, do a 50m wheelie, run over all the flowers, or do five flips. Here’s the thing: not all of these challenges are immediately accomplishable. I spent far too long on the first world, only to find out that I couldn’t do certain moves until I advanced. Then the same thing happened again in the next world. I kept having to earn new licenses to learn to new tricks to beat challenges in levels in earlier worlds.

It’s a minor complaint about a longstanding way to teach gameplay mechanics in consumable bites. But it still grinds my gears.

PCP: Joyce Manor

Monotony Monday #20 – Maybe Manor

Ode to Joyce

The short of it: Well, they are the short of it.

Joyce Manor is an emo indie rock outfit with four albums under their belt, giving them a total run time of about 80 minutes. Every album ends up just around 20 minutes, meaning they managed to cram a whole lot of music in a surprisingly small amount of time.

The result is a discography full of songs as catchy as they are short. None of them ever overstay their welcome, even if a few end suddenly. “Heart Tattoo” off their third album is pretty decent example of what to expect: a frantic instrumental with a passionate poem, with a crazy catchy chorus to infect the listener in the song’s brief runtime.

Punchy and poignant, they manage to balance a good amount of emotions in their little runtime. From the nostalgic melancholy (“In the Army Now”) to melancholic nostalgia (“Beach Community”).

Simply put, they’re a joy.

Ce manor.

PCP: Salty Bet

Watching Wednesday #19 – Whack-y

Bet on It, Na What I Mean

The short of it: It’s all the satisfaction of watching those fantasy character fights with none of the boring commentary and all of the actual fighting. 

Salty Bet is a constantly streaming pseudo-gambling site running the M.U.G.E.N. fighting engine. It pits two computer-controlled characters from pretty much every medium, from manga to Sega Saturn games, against one another in a best of five match.

It’s often a series of lightning quick exchanges, the two sprites darting back and forth before becoming wrapped in the other’s combos. Occasionally a match will simply devolve into a stomp fest, with one character easily sweeping the other. Sometimes it’s a bad matchup or a broken character, like a custom Aladdin that uses a sprite from a GBA game for movement and a secondary sprite from a Sega Genesis game for sword based attacks that go full screen.

So it’s a crapshoot. And that’s the best part of it.

The randomness of the matches, combined with the high possibility of upsets and the hyperbole of Twitch chat, makes it a hell of a lot of fun. It satisfies the curiousity of that inner combative nerd that needs physical validation of the quality of their favorite characters.

 

PCP: My Favorite Murder

Monotony Monday #18 – Moyder Myunday

Murder Most Lol

The short of it: As entertaining as it is macabre, My Favorite Murder is the perfect combination of laughter and looks over the shoulder.

My Favorite Murder is a podcast where two people talk about their favorite murders.

Not ones they’ve committed or anything– the local or legendary murders that horrify and fascinate us as a society. Hosts Karen and Georgia publicly embrace the terrible interest we have in the darkest parts of humanity.

It scratches that itch that you get when it’s late and you’re alone, with your laptop’s glow as the only light in your home as you painstakingly scroll through the excessively detailed Wikipedia page on some serial killer or cannibal or serial killer cannibal. This terrible fascination overcomes you, leaving you tied up in horrible taboo like a victim of a home invasion.

Karen and Georgia are the angels (or demons or hallucinations that encourage murder, whatever works) on your shoulders as they reveal various murders and monstrous acts, punctuating gruesome descriptions with gasps and squeals.

Of course, I’m in that beautiful podcast listening honeymoon phase where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts– except the recently added ad reads to their first couple of episodes. I listen to the podcast at max volume just to be able to fully hear the two women. I’ve yet to be as scared of any of the atrocities they’ve discussed as I am when I’m immersed in a story they’re telling when suddenly, mid-sentence, my eardrums shatter. “The victims reported hearing a gentle patter on their roof, just before th-HEYMURDERINOSDOYOULIKESNACKSNATUREBOX HERE!”

Apparently this gets better as the episodes go on and they get a sound guy, but I haven’t been this frustrated with poor audio mixing since Crit Juice, where I had to panic-lower the volume every couple of minutes. It’s murder on the mood, nerves, and ears. So not my favorite murder.

 

PCP: Berserk Pt. 2

Watching Wednesday #17 – Welcome Weeb

Back On My Berserk

Sir Yes ‘Serk

The short of it: Yeah, Berserk is still dope.

Alright, this might be double-dipping, but I don’t care.

Berserk is insane. Insanely good, dark, funny, heart breaking.

I think one of the most under-talked-about (underrated is overrated) sensations is when something completely changes your mind about other things of its kind. In less awful terms, it’s super cool when a genre or medium you’ve previously ignored or rejected becomes open to you thanks to a single piece of content.

I’d written off manga long ago. Anime’s easier to consume, cheaper, and it moves! Reading is for nerds. I’ve never felt really dissatisfied with any manga-based anime I’ve watched.

But there was always Berserk. This behemoth in nerd pop culture that could never be properly captured in any other format. Its designs and characters fascinated me, and I’m a sucker for nonsensically large weapons. The strange occult roots of the story, mixed with the grit and gore, means I couldn’t resist the legend for long. So when it went up for $8 a volume, I nabbed three or four.

I just got my second shipment of seven more volumes.

Sure, I liked the first few chapters. But something just clicked once the series started to flashback to Guts’ life before the Brand. For how infamous the series is for its inhumanity, the scenes of Guts’ relationships and heartbreaks are so human. They’re genuinely touching. I was actually standing up and cheering as I flipped page after page of brutal battles.

Knowing the final destination of the series makes the ramp up to it feel that much steeper. Every panel sheds a little more light on the mystery and injects a little more adrenaline into the reader. It’s got me going berserk.

 

PCP: 3D Ultra Minigolf

Fun Fridayz #16 – Finite Flaws

Minigolf, Many Fun

The short of it: It’s about as much fun as real crappy minigolf. 

No real excuses here. Felt bad, fell asleep. 

So my buddy Max and I had a few and booted up the ol’ 360 arcade game, 3D Ultra Minigolf. 

I downloaded it a few months ago for a few bucks after watching Achievement Hunter’s wonderfully classic Let’s Play 3D Ultra Minigolf.

It went about as well as one could expect. Mixing wonky physics and alcohol turned into a series of terrible failures, where a max power shot was a hole in one, but putting became an extra six strokes on a Par 2 course.

For a cheap laugh, though, it’s a real sinker.

PCP: The Wire

Watching Wednesday #15 – Well, Wire Wins

Through The Wire

Wired for success

The short of it: Despite its obvious age, and the terrifying truth that the aughts are now a sign of age, The Wire’s vulnerable characters make this a sort of odd predecessor to Game of Thrones.

It’s the answer at everyone’s fingertips the moment social media asks about masterpieces of television or Twitter tosses out a poll about favorite shows.

And here I am, years and years later, just deciding to start it on a whim, despite the thousands of internet voices praising it every time I logged on.

No surprise here, it’s dope.

Now, I’d like to say that’s a bad joke on account of the dope-slinging focus in the first season, but the show’s heartbreaking depictions of both the addicts and the dealers make any joke about it far more bitter than I’d like. So for now, that’s just one of my more mediocre mannerisms.

The show’s good. It starts with this immediate jump into the life of the Baltimore Police Department– another victim of the streets to deal with and another soon-to-be-victim of the streets to comfort. Character names fly by, but the faces and voices stick.