The Interesting Indie Game Trailers of E3 2017

Another Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone. with it, much hype over the new consoles, peripherals, and the flagship titles based on established properties and well-known franchise icons. Many promises are made through ridiculous press conferences,  leading to some broken and others with excessive DLC paywalls.

But among all the possible hits, are some shiny gems in the multiverse of interactive entertainment, mostly from the big console gaming juggernauts. Such promote themselves through visually sweet trailers, giving gamers a forward look. Others can be easily missed, as the mainstream entertainment media tends to gravitate towards the safe, familiar properties in promoting the new gaming eye candy.

So, we look towards the curious and interesting games based on the trailer content, built from many lesser-known developers. Check these out…

CUPHEAD

Developer: StudioMDHR
Platforms: Xbox One, Windows 10, Steam Release Date: September 29

Thoughts: I love the visual 60fps motion style, looking nearly hand drawn with every shot. But looking further, as some fantastic and deeply imaginative design concepts; much in spirit with the early Disney era of earliest animation that inspired this.

THE ARTFUL ESCAPE

Developer: Beethoven & Dinosaur
Platforms: Xbox One, Windows 10 Date of release: TBA

Thoughts: Another visually catching game, and a curious story to match.  There is a feeling with the style, reminding me The Yellow Submarine, and other psychedelic music videos of yesterday.

BLOODSTAINED: RITUAL OF THE NIGHT

Developer: Inti Creates Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One
Date of release: Spring 2018

Thoughts: As a huge fan of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the later Castlevania Nintendo DS games, I share the excitement in seeing composer Michiru Yamane  and producer Koji Igarashi working together on this independent spiritual successor to those special games in the franchise.

A PLAGUE TALE: INNOCENCE

Developer: Asobo Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC Date of release: TBA

Thoughts: Not much is known about this game just yet, other than its teasing me with rats. This has potential.

RAIDERS OF THE BROKEN PLANET

Developer: Mercury Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC Time of release: Late 2017

Thoughts: Since Overwatch, I notice a huge trend in these colorful shoot-em-ups. But Raiders of the Broken Planet seems to present a large narrative to its story, with something more than cosplay ideas.

SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS (remake)

Developer: Blueprint Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (exclusive) Time of release: 2018

Thoughts: Th awesome classic from the PS2 era is getting an updated revival. The original is also a prime example of how a game with a powerful story and graphics to match, and just as moving as a motion picture film, for what it brings to the heart.

THE LAST NIGHT

Developer: Odd Tales Publisher: Raw Fury
Platforms:  Xbox One and PC Time of release: 2018

Thoughts: I see a wonderful looking game with some classic Blade-Runner-esque cyberpunk elements. My wallet is ready.

ORI and THE WILL OF THE WISPS

Developer: Moon Studios
Platforms: Xbox One and Windows 10  Time of release: 2018

Thoughts: The original Ori and the Blind Forest, is an essential masterpiece for lovers of side-scrolling cinematics.  This sequel pushes the haunting sounds and vibrant visuals of the original to a new level, of which I hope will eventually come to other platforms as well.

TUNIC

Developer: Andrew Shouldice
Platforms: PC, Mac, consoles TBA  Time of release: 2018

Thoughts: Another game with a unique feel, with a bit of a classic Legend of Zelda vibe going on.

That’s all for now. If you know of any good upcoming games missed up, announced or promoted through E3 2017, let us know below!

 

Inside the PAX West 2016

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The PAX West 2016 show was all right.

Formerly known as PAX Prime, the original Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle held its own for another year for the video gaming and tabletop gaming communities. For the digital forefront, definite trends showed well in the big rooms; with a rise in live-streaming channels, virtual reality (VR) tech, open-world games, and e-sports competitions. Final Fantasy XV, the new Warcraft expansion, ARK: Survival Evolved, Earthfall, Hob stood out as the most heavily promoted. Among fans, games held their own presence with little developer support with ever-present cosplay and fan cheer; such includes but not limited to are Overwatch, League of Legends, Pokémon Go, Street Fighter, past Final Fantasy games, and anything Nintendo franchise-based.

The physical tabletop realms were not as loud but just as colorful with their own trends in party-based card games. Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering had rooms and whole areas. Many newcomers fresh off their Kickstarters were easily accessible, but not as visible in the basement ACT Theater and Floor 6 areas. Everywhere, willing players can spend time meeting new friends while discovering new games to play. Merchants selling games and gaming paraphernalia were also present.

Below, are my choice moments of the 2016 PAX west show, captured in time with a little blurb on each:

The best booth of the show is definitely the one promoting ARK: Survival Evolved, where attendees may go up a staircase and mount a large dinosaur.

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Some awesome creature promoting the Earthfall game

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The Nintendo handheld booth moved for this year, now in the indoors area..

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The Logitech gaming and computer accessories booth had a fantastic light display that utilized light-up keyboards, showing changing animations.

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A couple of cosplay promoters at the Puzzles and Dragons booth.

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The Bandai-Namco booth greeted fans with a cool group of Tekken cosplayers.

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Gamers gotta game, even in full warrior attire…

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Dungeon League, by Surprise Attack, got much attention at their booth. I like the pretty colors..

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Mekazoo, a fantastic looking side-scroller still in development but playable here. I look forward to its eventual release.

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A giant skull with screens on its shades. Love it!

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The upcoming South Park: Fractured but Whole game, presented here with the Nosulous Rift device, which is capable of emitting fart smells into the nostrils of its players. Yup, technology has come a long way!

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Not sure from this cosplayer hails from, but her presentation is awesome.

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A pathway many PAX attendees will easily miss, hidden almost behind the main escalator. For the moment, there is a quiet almost calming ambiance.

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The small room where the Cards with Humanity game and game exclusives are sold, along with some interesting new games (of which I should have written down, but I remember a game called Secret Hitler stood out)

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A trio of cosplayers on break..

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The Nintendo Lounge area, now with a section I think houses the Pokémon crowd…

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A tense game of Jenga with giant blocks

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A Warhammer miniatures game set-up on the Skybridge…

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An amazing construct of the USS Missouri made of Lego bricks, to promote the World of Warships game…

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Amazing detail!

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A sample scenario from an odd game called God Hates Charades.

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A trip of cosplayers emulating the cast of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

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The famous Paramount Theater, used by the Wizards of the Coast company to host their Magic the Gathering card game tournaments and gameplays…

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A closer look at that stage…

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A gaming creator and designer pioneer, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. His produced Lumines, Rex, Meteos, Space Channel 5. He also directed Child of Eden.

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A new game for the Playstation 4, Drawn to Death, where the player fights to survive a demented notebook of sinister sketches. This, was my favorite banner of the show.

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Not sure what game this was promoting, but bravo to the awesome puppetry design and craft work.

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“Cindy” with her truck promoting the Final Fantasy XV game.

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And at the end of my PAX trip, a cheerful gang of Toads!

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Well, that’s all for this year, as I look forward to the next.

– Orion T

San Diego Comic Con 2016 in Pictures and Notes – Part 3

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(continued from Part 2 and  Part 1)

Here are some of my favorite people of this year’s Comic Con!

What really makes a good Comic Con worth the while in attending? It’s the people who you can meet there. Among you, are creative types on the visual and literary arts.  Some are well-known, while others are striving to succeed. Others arrive to learn, while others are there to teach. Within the 200,000 people attending, is a good chunk looking to get inspired, or there to perhaps inspire, or maybe even both. So below, I captured moments with my favorite people of this year of the Comic Con..

In the Small Press area, here’s Jim Hillin. artist/writer on Zombie Bunnies – a fun little indie comic I really enjoyed. His pitch was a nice reminder of the best ways to enjoy the comic cons, through discovery and being susceptible to suggestions!

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Jim Davis, creator of Garfield! This was the best highlight for me for this year, hearing him talk and discuss the iconic cartoon cat and friends in his own panel.

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Ray Dillon, artist on The Legend of Wonder Woman, sketching the Amazon Princess at the DC Booth.

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Ron Lim, a favorite comic artist from my past years as a Silver Surfer fan. It was a joy to meet him and watch him in his natural habitat.

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Jeremy A Bastian, artist and writer of Cursed Pirate Girl, a book recently reviewed here on SW as a personal recommendation to anyone into adventure and awesomely detailed art. To meet him in person was an awesome joy.

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Michael Oushenker, indie comics artist and publisher of Cartoon Flophouse Comics, promoting his funny book, Trolls!

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Sebastian Kadlecik, comic writer and artist on Penguins vs. Possums; an awesome indie series nearing its completion on a full eight-issue run. I met him a while ago at the Long Beach Comic Con, and was cool to see him again at this bigger convention.

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Ivan Brandon, famed writer of the currently acclaimed series Drifter and many other books over the years. We had a fantastic conversation on writing and Drifter, which I shall put up soon on the SW site.

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Evis Fung, the Marketing Director for High Fly Studios shows high spirits at his stand promoting Dweores, a comic series of little-spirited robots.

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One of the several cosplayed promoters with artist Joe Phillips (around the corner but also in costume, see Part 2!), promoting a Midsummer’s Knight comic series,  new series with a different take on Shakespeare classic work.

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Speaking of artist Joe Phillips, here he is in full Jedi costume (on the right).

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Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, writer on Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and many other titles (mostly Marvel Comics). We had a nice chat about his work on Archie Comics and his love of writing.

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Coming writing legend, Howard Chaykin (Black Kiss, American Flagg, Satellite Sam and much, much more over four+ decades) hanging out by Artist Alley. We had an awesome chat about writing, social commentary in comics, and his next project. That interview will be up soon, here at SW!

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No idea who these people were at the Nickelodeon booth. I asked some phone snappers in the crowd on how (of which there were many), and they didn’t seem to know either. Still, do as the Romans do, or something…

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A trio of cosplayers promoting Jekyll Island Chronicles, a new comic from IDW.

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Jim Lee (to the right), is a joy to see him interacting with fans at the DC booth. Other writers and artists were also present,

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I think this was a promotion team for the new Star shows Ash Vs. Evil Dead; and a fantastic example of how a company can make Comic-Con fun by pushing a the cosplay element among the fandom to boost interest with an established franchise.

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The panel for the upcoming Injustice: Gods Among Us video game. Among the panel guests were Ed Boon (co-creator of the Mortal Kombat video game franchise), Tom Taylor (award-winning comic writer), Laura Bailey (voice actor), Phil Lamarr (a favorite voice actor), and George Newborn (voice actor).

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Brian Haberlin, creator comic artist/writer on Faster Than Light, Anomoly, and more. We had a great chat on science fiction in comics, and the use of UAR apps in his books. An interview with will be featured soon here on SW.

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Joëlle Jones, a comic artist whose recent work on an issue of Superman: American Alien has made me an instant fan. Currently, she writes and draws Lady Killer, a new series through Image Comics, out now.

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Here she is again, drawing Clark Kent on a small art card.

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The Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive movie panel, featuring the upcoming CGI animated film. Here present was its director (Takeshi Nozue) with voice talent and animators.

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And among the many wonderful people, are the cosplayers like the folk in this Doctor Who gathering. Many of the awesome costumed persons shall be featured in Part 4 of my 2016 Comic Con commentary. Look for it soon on SW!

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That’s all for Part 3. Come back soon to the SW for Part 4: featuring the creative cosplayers of Comic Con!

 

– Orion T

Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2016.8.16 – Some New Age Delights..

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Here we go again, with some things different and new!

The reads from last week are new, with nothing too familiar and plenty room for new delights. Below, are my short reviews for those comics, of which I found amusement to some extent. Some of which are more than others, though some readers may feel different. Even so, do take a peek and consider each.

Here we go, with the new (and minor spoilers)…

NEW COMICS THIS WEEK:

NVRLND #1 () by Dylan Mulick, Stephanie Salyers, Leila Leiz

NVRLND is a very different take on the Peter Pan story, this time in Hollywood with modern-day parallels where Cook is a tattoo artist and pixie dust is the new drug. Seeing the version reminds me on much of how the original story was weak, both worlds where growing up is forgotten and the world filled with irresponsibility. The trouble with thus book is the reminder of all that, with its protagonists, especially Wendy being the most unlikeable. The book is not for me, but was deeply amused by this modern take.

Blue Hour #1 (Action Lab) by Dino Caruso, Chad Cicconi

I love the idea here, where humans are the aliens and we simply think colonization will be an easy, adjustable thing. With little on the big picture other than establishing human-alien relations, there is much drama on a small-scale leading to what, I can not foresee. I can’t get into the human characters just yet, with hopes there will be more to the actual plot and what exactly the “Blue Hour” is. The artwork is great and I love the landscapes and alien designs. However, the first issue doesn’t tell enough as to what direction or expectation the book has in store. I will check out the next issue and see, as I am a little curious where it all goes.

Hillbilly #2 (Albatross) by Eric Powell

This second issue is as great as the first. So far, Hillbilly is a true gem for its great colorful art, and driven characters. The issue hooked me deep into its first-person narrative and a quest that leads into another supernatural fairy tale. Also, much of the setting and supernatural elements gives me an Evil Dead vibe, and that’s great. I also love Death as the protagonist’s ideal companion for this issue, giving complexity while a twisted tree spirit can have a heart, and an innocent town girl ends up missing hers. Such the great small stories twisted in a bigger story is the world of Hillbilly, and I’m entranced.

The Flintstones #2 (DC Comics) by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh

Yabba, yabba doo!! This is a very unexpected surprise from DC Comics and the writer of the recent (and sadly canceled) Prez comic series. Here, we got more than a license from the classic prime time cartoon, but now with fantastic satire and social commentary of sorts that somehow still fits well with the spirit of the original cartoon. The art is brilliant, giving the familiar characters extra humanity in their presentation while maintaining the odd prehistoric civilization’s comedic gags. This issue is particularly brilliant with a focus on Fred’s discontent, with his job and religion (after discovering his god is actually a vacuüm cleaner!). The relation with his wife and friends tugs at the reader’s heart, making us feel for Fred as the great underdog.

Vision #10 (Marvel) by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Writer Tom King on this series has turned Vision into perhaps the most complex superhero of the current Marvel universe. He is both the hero and villain, as his programming struggles with the collapse of his synthetic family. Everything is wrong, as the son is no more and his wife is breaking apart. There is futility in a recent prophecy of a dark turn coming, as the panels and transitions are darker and foreboding in transition. I can’t wait for the next (and I think final conclusion) to the story, where the Avengers will hopefully set things right. The end is coming for both the family and Tom King’s story run, for which I am sad is all too soon.

Clucked #1 (HeyJoie Comics) by Joel Foster

NOTE: Put out digitally this week via Comixology Submit.

A book that feels a bit like the classic Howard the Duck comic series by Steve Gerber, where a chicken is stuck a strange world. Here we know some familiarity, but feel closer to the Major Sanders in discovering the strangeness of it all. This includes other aliens, and the lack of chicken; which was once a favorite food. He meets a new friend, where trust is put into question. Along the way, there is action, laughs, and some extra crispy served mystery. Clucked is good campy fun, with bits of social satire and witty dialogue. The art and panel transitions are kept simple, allowing the reader to stop and consider what’s next for a talking chicken in danger; which could be any direction.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss anything on the shelves, that is a worthy read?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and seeker of great comic books and all related wonderful things.

 

SW Fan Film Review – Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

 

Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

  • Writer, Director, Executive Producer: Vic Mignogna (also stars as James T. Kirk) 
  • Time: 42.12
  • Release: Released on Youtube May 28, 2016
  • Notes: Purely a fan-made work, and the 6th episode in a series so far.

Synopsis :

“A troubled creature pierces the Enterprise hull, pitting the crew against a pursuer that threatens to tear them apart.”

Personal Thoughts:

Star Trek Continues, is a fan-made film based on the original TV series of work of Gene Roddenberry. It’s on-canonical and not affiliated with the CBS or Paramount copyright holders. Yet, it feels far closer to the feeling of the original premise than the movies and other popular fan films out there (including the highly controversial Axaner fan-film).

What sets this series on its high pedestal goes beyond its truer to original set-design, effects and costumes. The premise is kept alive, to see out new life and new civilizations and boldly go.. Here we get just that, though the new life finds them. It’s the high question of just how far we as humans can fit into the universe, when the variables of life are so much greater than our comprehension.

For this episode, our somewhat familiar crew encounters a creature (Usdi) who can fly through space, affect emotions, has a very unearthly appearance that at times seem closer to the Horta than human. Much of the episode is a desperate need to understand this, while dealing with the changing of their own emotions. Neither side seems to fully understand how one affects the other. It’s a story they may not need a Star Trek to tell it, but such the setting and vessel called Enterprise fits perfect.

That’s due to the maze of conflicted negative emotions leading to mutiny and discord, to add drama I suppose to this bottleneck episode.  Somehow, Eliza surpasses where even Spock fails in her emotions, to better understand the creature. In establishing successful first contact, the sides must find some connection and mutual understanding. Here, there is a parental bond that is eventual understood by the humans, which brings about a positive end for both.

Overall, a good story that reminds us that Star Trek is not about galactic warfare and eminent warp core breaches. I feel it’s about finding our tiny place in a vast universe, as explorers and knowledge gathers. Such is more exciting, to deal with unforeseen dilemmas and complex situations; than to learn and grow from it all.

The crew once again does well to emulate not imitate the original cast. I see at this point, the cast are looking to match the mannerisms and characteristics of the crew members, not the actors who originally portrayed them. The acting is good enough, and acceptable for a fan broadcast. Vic Mignogna does Captain Kirk best, though I feel it’s his involvement in the overall production that leads the presentation to its success. He is a captain on and off the set. The characters of Spock, McCoy, and Scotty are also taking on a life of their own, as the Abrams movie versions by other different actors have also done.

But the only problem I see in this, is the lack of possible development the show can do for such characters. I doubt there will be any drastic changes for the main crew, as such would remind the un-canonicity of the science fiction copy. Yet, we have some original cast members, mostly of the female crew members. Perhaps in future episodes, they could develop and capture the hearts of the fans in the changes they go through.

Overall, a great episode for being fan-work. I would enjoy more, but also hoping for more original crew members and stories of such that revolve around them. I hope for the show to stay to its roots, and stay away from other overall complex canon on Romulan-Klingon-Vulcan-whatever other established aliens overdone by the other canonical series and expanded lore. Keep it real, and I will boldly watch.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Film – C (299,792 km/s) by Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier

C (299,792 km/s) from Seaquark Films on Vimeo.

Temple

  • Studio: Seaquark Films
  • Director: Derek Van Gorder
  • Producer: Otto. Stockmeier
  • Musical Score: SelloRekT/LA Dreams
  • Time: 14:45 Release: Released on Vimeo 2013
  • Notes: For more info, visit c-themovie.com

Synopsis :

“C is the story of Lieutenant Commander Malleck, and her radical act of mutiny aboard the 
KESTROS IV. With the help of her co-conspirators, she attempts to harness this weapon of mass destruction for a grand new purpose. But when a contingent of ground crew led by Second Lieutenant Kai threatens her master plan, Malleck must use the ship against them in order to succeed.

To build the future, we looked to the past. No CGI or greenscreen was used in the making of the film; all our sets and props were built by hand and filmed in-camera. Combining new advances in digital camera technology with traditional special effects, we sought to create a unique look through lighting design, camera tricks, miniature photography, split-screen, and stop-animation. We believe that this approach allowed us greater creative possibilities on a low-budget science-fiction film”

Personal Thoughts:

C (299,792 km/s), is a modern example to what I feel science fiction should reach towards..

I think upon watching this, to expect the random unpredictable outliers in our future civilizations. We set our rules, only to have the eventual revolutionaries break them; otherwise, we face destruction either from boredom or the caveman natures of conflict on who has the bigger stick. We meet the hero or anti-hero (depends on POV) in Malleck as a maverick more than a mutineer. We know little of her background and purpose, other than odd hints to her plan. The result, is interesting for what or may not benefit our hopes for space travel.

The best answers in consideration and reflection is the old-school cool video snippets between. We have explanations on the past and future of the overall manifest destiny, and how the need for advancement has always intertwined with human conflict. Was it such relics of science truth in found footage the inspiration for Malleck? We don’t know. What is important, is the old message lives on and a new story is told.

For the 15 minutes present, there is enough memorable style and brilliance. The cinematography and designs mixed best of the early 80s, late 70s of hard science fiction putting space travel on its true visionary track, almost derailed from the Star Wars and Galacticas. But, we get some sweet action scenes and interpersonal drama to keep the pace going.

A short note on the action I found interesting, is the ineptness of Kai and his soldiers. From the start, we can mistake them as the protagonists. And, perhaps they were; but they fail terribly. It seemed the intelligence and cleverness of Malleck were enough to keep control of the story towards her own end. Such is a constant in storytelling, as the better vision is often guided by the more intelligent.

Also, a huge shout-out to the music produced with the awesome early synth track pumping, with feels on rewind back to early days of electro-pop. Such music, combined with the practical effects, lighting styles, and feelings of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I feel a nostalgic vision of the future kept alive. We need this, as new distractions may lead us astray in looking down, into those little black mirrors.

Still, the overall triumph of good science fiction whispers to those who dream, and eventually push us a little more towards making a new realty.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Film – Temple (by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen)

Temple

  • Director: Nguyen-Anh Nguyen
  • Actors: Osric Chau & Yue Qi
  • Sound design, Musical Score: Cult Nation & Kannibalen Records
  • Time: 9:14 Release: Released on Vimeo February 29, 2015, premiered in 2015
  • Notes: For more info, visit thefilmeffect.com/temple

Synopsis :

“2045 A.D. A new genetic disease is causing humans to reject their own organs. Cybernetic enhancements are the only means to survive. One desperate man is forced to steal cybernetic implants to save an innocent life.

Personal Thoughts:

A beautiful combination of great VFX, sound, scripting, and editing.

The story content itself is a reinvention of several dystopian concepts left from the past 80s/90s era of sci-fi urban cyberpunk fiction. One being the idea of the failures of genetic enhancement, though in this setting the enhancements are necessary for survival. I can only wonder what kind of genetic diseases could lead to this sort of necessity. Another being the idea where technology wins and surpasses humanity, as we see not only the boost of tech in humans but in vehicles and city development as well. The “filthy air” and “flood” are hints and perhaps warnings towards continued harm to our global environments.

Then we have a major theme and moral dilemma for the sake of drama. Our main character and narrator cares little for the opponent, as we have little back story from him other than his want to survive and fight back. He takes no joy in the fight, as he must save another he cares for from dying. In this cruel world, we ponder his moral judgement in the choice of who lives and who dies, based on his martial arts skills. Yet here we are, and can hope for a happy end beyond the nine minutes shown.

The martial arts action is great though not as necessary I think to the overall story. We have a feeling we know who the winner will be and that may deescalate where the overall tension goes. Yet, the brutality and gore result does heighten the gritty mood and shock of the violence this world brings. There is a high degree of nihilism we get from the feeling where “we all have to become monsters.”

The music is very captivating, with elevated electronica mixed with ambiance and tension. The audio set mood feels established for the grit and futuristic noir. The visuals of deep colors and grainy filters used with timed depth of field techniques feel suitable, feels modern to this era of indie filmmaking. These are good things. Together with the great editing and cinematography present, I can envision a full movie worthwhile for independent audiences looking for hard-sci combined with meaningful action sequences.

Overall, a great watch that serves enough as a standalone tale leaving much open. This would be a great prologue to a large story where perhaps the woman is the main protagonist, and perhaps a more cheerful ending. I can hope someday for that bigger story.

– Orion T

Stranger Reading Suggestions: Recent low cost digital comics…

Looking for something new without stretching your wallet?

I have just the things for that sequential art appetite, especially good for those who enjoy some variety in their browsing. Check out my chosen below, all fairly recent in 2016, though some suggests going back to 2015 for earlier issues. Each is available online through the Comixology digital comics reading service. Even better, each issue can be at your enjoyment for 99 cents; a price that wasn’t standard for comics of around 20 pages since the mid 1980s.

Check these out:

(click on the title of each for a direct online link to download and purchase)

GOOD NIGHT #1

Good Night

  • Writer, Artist: Fey Nefeloma
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Nevo Digital
  • Price: 0.99, Age rating: 9+
  • Notes: Original webcomic at goodnight.nocturnenebula.com

“Ayesha, a bright, young girl with a fear of monsters, questions her caring father the whereabouts of her absent mother.”

A very touching black and white comic series starter with curious fantasy and light horror elements. I love the idea that behind the monsters here, where lies an interesting story that’s starting to unfold. The setting feels very modern, yet has some fairy classic fairy tale style moments. The ending left me wanting more..

KINGS AND CANVAS #3

King and Canvas

  • Writer: Neil Kleid  Artist: Jake Allen colorist : Frank Reynoso
  • Released: Jan 13, 2016 by Monkeybrain
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 12+

“In this corner, fighting for aid in his journey to Queensbury: Mammoth! In the other corner, the Gateway Champion, determined to keep Mammoth’s crew from heading west: Argos Dane! It’s champion vs former champion for the fate of the quest…but will Mammoth throw the bout in order to get everything he’s ever wanted since escaping Gaol? Ding, ding, kids. Grab a ringside seat for the fight of the…well, the fight of this issue, anyway.”

A fresh series I have recently jumped on to. Love the art style and fight sequences, a combination punch of shonen manga meets classic Saturday morning cartoon faire. The 3rd issue shows the pacing going well, and the characters further developed. It’s a must for anyone looking for some good adventure, a little historical fantasy, and a heavy dose of fun.

THE HALF #1

The Half

  • Writer: Justin Porter   Artist: Jeremy Stain
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Half Assed Industries
  • Price: 0.99 Age rating: 17+

“A young boy finds his way amid the ashes of love and the myth of family.”

It’s a very dark series with serious matters dealing with domestic violence and psychological abuse. The first issue sets up a strong premise for what could lead to anything at the end, as there some curious hints of something far more unfamiliar afoot. The coloring is especially done well with the stylized art, for a story package that will keep my curiosity for whatever comes next.

GUARDIAN OF THE FOREST

Photo Feb 20, 10 58 28 PM

  • Writer: Robert James Mediavilla   Artist: Diana Naneva   Letterer: Danny Djeljosevic
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Model Town
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 17+

“What is a guardian of the forest without a forest?” This question has plagued family man Ben Taylor’s life since he unwittingly unleashed a supernatural force upon his small town. Now, as the body count rises and the creature draws closer, he and his daughter will come face to face with the brutal answer.”

A dark horror short story with a surprise twist. The fantastic dramatic build-up is in huge part to the awesome art and color, shading detail, balanced with great pacing. There is much to the story for its mere 14 pages of comic art, 4 pages of straight text; with elements of religion, myth and metaphors.

EVO-Z #1

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  • Writer: Paolo Ferrara   Artist: Silvano Beltramo
  • Released: Feb 2, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Mache Models
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 12+
  • Notes: Available via Comixology Submit, though translated from the Italian free version at machemodels.com

“Hunted, lost, Thy is an exobiologist, member of a scouting mission, who finds herself plunged into an unknown universe.
Fighting for survival – in the middle of a war about to explode and of which she, inadvertently, was the fuse – Thy finds some extravagant allies, aliens with mysterious abilities and needs, with whom she will try to find a way to return to her galaxy of origin.”

Evo-Z is hard science fiction full of variety and interesting sci-fi concepts and designs. The vehicles are based upon the original concepts from Germàn Impache, a master modeler with work displayed at machemodels.com. The story has much going on, not allowing for a quick read. This is a good thing, with much to take in for its fantastic world-building and character depth present.

BANDETTE #12

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  • Writer: Paul Tobin Artist: Colleen Coover
  • Released: Jan 27, 2016 by Monkeybrain
  • Price: 0.99 Age rating: 12+
  • Notes: Ongoing series, in print volumes via Dark Horse Comics

“The Voice holds Daniel hostage! Bandette and her Urchins scour the city in an effort to locate their abducted friend, while Daniel looks for a way to escape his captivity, and Inspector Belgique sets his sights on apprehending The Voice himself! All the while, Monsieur and Margot narrow in on the elusive prize at the root of the whole affair: the House Of The Green Mask!”

Love the heck out of this series since the first issue. At this point in the 12th issue, our spunky protagonist is well established as a unique lead unlike any other in all the comic book lands. The classic French style setting and expanding cast of characters are further well-developed and paced well for expanded interest. While this issue is not exactly the best jumping on point, this is worthwhile mentioning to anyone looking for something newish and different with high emphasis on fun.

That’s all for now. If you checked out any of the titles presented and have thoughts to share, or have suggestions of your own (cheap or free, accessible online or app)..let us know in the comments!

-Orion T

 

 

Short Science Fiction Animated Film – Sputnik (by Maxim Zhestkov)

Sputnik

  • Director / Designer / Producer: Maxim Zhestkov
  • Compositing, Sound Design, Music: Alexander Kulikov
  • Animation: Dmitrii Kolpakov
  • Character design: Ben Mauro
  • Time: 4:56
  • Release: December 2015
  • Notes: For more info, visit www.zhestkov.com

Synopsis :

“Sputnik” is a Maxim Zhestkov short film about the evolution of an extraterrestrial mind, and its journey to the light. The project was created with the help of industry leading artists from all over the world, including: United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Russia. Production of the full CG animated short film took a year and a half. All crew members worked on the project remotely. Maxim directed it and produced from his HQ in Ulyanovsk, Russia..”

Personal Thoughts:

A visually stunning film, of which I briefly enjoyed.

Much is on the stunning visuals, yet not too heavy. There is a message, though I feel it’s somewhat lost to me. The happenings I feel are interpretive to those enjoy the fiction in their speculative thinking. We have a lone alien, that perhaps represents the truly intelligent life among others, guided by curiosity and a reaching out for history and links to the unknown. To carry it within oneself, not as leader but as a keeper of things come and gone.

The twist I suppose, is how the alien species didn’t seem to care about the greater civilization above, almost dominating yet ignorant of their existence (or perhaps intelligent enough to leave them alone). It’s their junk that now lies in this backyard..an important treasure I suppose to at least one. I wonder how many in our world considered life on our Moon before humanity set foot? Does that light and operations of the unknown represent evolution to our drive for growth? There is much thought provocation within the short time, though I wonder how much intended by the filmmakers.

The alien design is beautiful, in showing a strong frame yet gentle presentation in characteristics. The movement displays fluidity and sense, for living upon a primitive isolation environment. In defense, I could see them as deadly and brutal, with their muscular features and long arms. The closest I can thing of in reality, would be that of the gorilla.

The sound noise is magnificent for its monotone brilliance and setting mood. The reminds me a bit of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Overall, a nice little short that goes beyond to the ideas of anything but short.

– Orion T

Castlevania SOTN Producer, Koji Igarashi Bloodstained game Kickstarts high

Koji Igarashi, is ready to produce a brand new game, perhaps called by humans who wish to pay him tribute.

Or, help him succeed in his Kickstarter project, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Nighta spiritual successor to his long-standing work producing games for the Konami’s Castlevania game franchise; mostly for the Playstation and Nintendo DS. His most notable work remains Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, an essential game for every side-scrolling aficionado to experience.

So now, Koji brings his gothic-horror side scrolling animated style fun back, under his own wing as an indie label under development by Inti Creates. The game promises to bring back those awesome RPG, exploratory, action-filled elements that enriched his games produced for Castlevania. The game will have Michro Yamane as composer, whose work includes Castlevania SOTN, and many other games. Ippo Yamada is also on board as a sound producer for Bloodstained, whose past work also includes ,many Mega Man games. For the English voice acting, David Hayter is stated to be on board (thanks to stretch goals), best known for this work as Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid game franchise.

Bloodstained ROTN now has fantastic success thanks to eager fans and their collective deep pockets via Kickstarter; now reached over $28,000,000 of its original $500,000 goals. With half a month to go, I predict Bloodstained will reach above 40 mil. Many stretch goals were met adding new features promised to the game, including cross-platform development for the PC, Wii, Ps4, XB1, 2-player Co-op, and the “Biggest Castle” of which I think means a bigger exploratory area than previous Castlevania games produced by Koji Igarashi. Also added, are Boss Rush, Speed-Run, Classic, Nightmare game modes.

There is more to this project, with many exclusive rewards for contributors. For more details, click here.

Personal Thoughts:

I love Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as one of my top favorite games of all time. I played and enjoyed some of the later DS games to a lesser extent, but always drawn to them for their similarity to SOTN. Everything about them, especially SOTN, have a complete experience in gameplay, music, visuals, and fun with a sense of gothic-style spookiness that to each full completion.  I could sense his work, with the excellent style of the games he produced, but never quite familiar with his name. I see in the video, a man with a sense of humor and fun; looking to expand beyond the Konami realms. With Bloodstained and the success of his Kickstarter project, I think his prime time will be soon; to make the best name for himself as this première purveyor of “Igavania” games.

Until then, “enough talk, have at you!!”

– Orion T