Video Game News That Doesn’t Suck

Trio Simpatico has a new episode! HERE

David and Joshua are rejoined by their old friend DAVID WESTER to discuss the recent news from E3 2018 and the upcoming video games we’re excited to play!

Covering Nintendo, Xbox, and Playstation along with developers like EA and newcomers Bad Robot the trio tries to touch on a little bit of everything!

Pokemon, Smash Bros., Cuphead DLC, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Sea of Solitude, Anthem, and so much more on this episode of TRIO SIMPATICO!

Plus exciting news from our sponsor the Bizmuth Potato Company!  So tune in now!

http://simpaticopodcast.libsyn.com/video-game-news-that-we-like

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Solo: Dissection

This is it!  Trio Simpatico’s Solo: A Star Wars Story coup de grâce!

SPOILERS abound beyond this point as Joshua and David welcome guests TIM MCFARLAND and BRIAN ASHTON as the quartet undertakes a SOLO: DISSECTION episode!

Finally sitting down to tear into Solo: A Star Wars Story your co-hosts and their guests crack open the brand new Official Guide to the movie written by Lucasfilm story group head honcho Pablo Hidalgo!

Using the official guide as a map the group covers nearly every aspect of the film giving our opinions and commentary on what we liked, what we didn’t like, and what we hope to see in future STAR WARS ANTHOLOGY films!

PLUS if this conversation leaves you wanting more, fear not!  As you’d expect by now with these episodes, we ran long and had to cut some sections for time, however we are putting those cut segments together for a future bonus episode!

So look for that coming up on TRIO SIMPATICO!

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Solo: A Denny’s Bonus Episode

Trio Simpatico has a brand new episode up NOW!

SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story

As a prelude to our upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story Dissection episode we present this BONUS episode!  Recorded on location at DENNY’S as Joshua and David partake of the current SOLO themed meals and promotions!

With Peter Cetera serenading them and their fellow patrons, your co-hosts have a fast and loose conversation as they consume their STAR WARS inspired grub!

Listen in to get a quick behind the scenes peek at the lives of Dave and Josh as they prepare for an episode of the podcast, it’s like you’re sitting at the table with them at America’s Diner, Denny’s!

And stay tuned later this week for our full SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Dissection episode!

http://simpaticopodcast.libsyn.com/a-solo-dennys-special

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Pokémon: Is This Real Life?

20 years ago Pokémon was introduced in the United States with the release of Pokémon Red and Blue.

At the time I was 15 years old and probably skewed a little old for the games target audience. (Nintendo was clearly trying to corner the 10 year old asexual Venusian subterranean crabling demographic, of which I was obviously not a part of.)  Regardless I quickly came to love the game and its concepts and have been a huge fan ever since!

The original Gameboy games were genius, entertaining, strange, and fun.

The first cartoon series was goofy, endearing, and hilarious. (Also quite a bit was lost in translation which only seemed to make it better.)

The wave of countless Pokémon merchandise which followed was impressive, of course including some great toys which I also partook of.

The Team Rocket Meowth Balloon vehicle.  Which I personally own.

My personal interest in Pokémon can be traced back to a single specific moment which I distinctly recall.  I was in my bedroom at my childhood home and was reading a magazine or comic book (most likely an X-Men title) and I turned the page to a distinctive full page ad.  On that page I saw a crowd of small impish animals clustered together while a giant cartoon net was falling down over them.  In parenthesis the phrase ‘Got ya!’ was scrawled nearby and in the bottom corner of the ad was the (now synonymous) title and phrase, ‘Pokémon: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

I instantly found the image very intriguing and I actually remember stopping to examine the ad, which was very odd for me at the time.  As a kid when I was reading comic books the ads would, at most, get a brief aggravated eye roll as I disappointedly realized that my storyline had been interrupted.  But there I was inspecting the cartoonish designs of these unknown creatures.

At the time I had no idea what any of them were.  There was a little barking rat, a squat yellow squirrel, some sort of floating rock creature, a fire breathing dragon, an evilly grinning purple spiky thing, giant insects, a tortoise with guns on its back, and a large stoic faced teddy bear.

I immediately loved the designs and style of these things and whatever Pokémon was, I was already sold.

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Pokemon really made me appreciate the aesthetic of ‘Demented Pet Shop’ 

That image was particularly difficult to find online and I have still been unable to find a clean image of it anywhere.  Everything I can come up with is either a scan, or like the image below, a picture of the ad itself.  (It is still one of my favorite Pokémon images and I’d love to one day get a print of it to hang in my office.)

Looking it over in my youth I saw that Nintendo was listed in the small print at the bottom of the ad I realized it was a video game of some sort which was exciting, however at the time I didn’t have a console, only the handheld Gameboy.  So alas I thought I’d have to wait until a friend picked it up in order to see what it was about.  Thankfully of course, that wasn’t the case.

From there it was a whirlwind of Pokémania!

I picked up Pokémon Blue first.  However once I realized I’d have to trade between the Red version in order to follow the mandate of the game, and indeed catch them all, I wound up buying the Charizard emblazoned Red Version as well.  (And although I eventually had several friends who played the game, initially I wasn’t sure I’d find anyone who was interested.)

Soon the Pokémon cartoon was in full swing as well, which became my first real experience with anime and the various tropes and staples of that animated genre.  I found the show really zany and hilarious, I loved all the characters, and it helped to flesh out the pixelated world of the games.

For years Pokémon was steadily on my radar.

1998 – Pokémon Yellow launched, essentially combining the continuities of the cartoon and the first two games.

August 1998 – Pokémon Stadium hits the Nintendo 64.  Probably my favorite Pokémon spin-off game ever made.  Not only could you upload and battle your Pokémon with friends on glorious 3D rendered battlefields, you could also play the Gameboy games on the big screen.  All that AND there were a ton of GREAT mini games that were fun, challenging, and really quite funny.

December of that year the Pokémon card game made its way into the mix joining the other card games I geeked out with, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Magic, and then Pokémon!

1999 – Super Smash Bros. hit the scene featuring the quintessential Pokémascot Pikachu.  With whom I would regularly use to provide a Smash Bros. smack down.

November 1999 – Pokémon Gold and Silver hit the scene and a new Pokémon adventure was under way, beginning a regular pattern of Poké games which have found success and innovations to varying degrees through the years.

With the most recent Nintendo 3DS games the handheld Pokémon world has been completely rendered in 3D and fully animated.  Pokémon are traded across the globe on international servers.  And friends can talk smack directly through their 3DS, in real-time, from across the country when battling online!

It really is impressive to see how the Pokémon franchise has . . . . EVOLVED! (Get it?)

Well now we have Pokémon Go, the franchise’s first foray into the mobile gaming market.

At first glance Pokémon Go appears to be a bit of a downgrade in terms of gameplay, essentially a simplified cell phone version of the Pokémon Card Game.  However upon closer examination it is much more than that.

From my experience with Pokémon Go so far, it appears to be a real world expression of the long established Pokémon universe and the best kind of fan service.  I mean this property is now 20 years old and there are very few people, children and adults alike, who don’t at least know who Pikachu is and Pokémon Go lets you bring that world out into the real world.

Part of the enduring appeal of the Pokémon games is the universe in which the game and show take place.  Across the various islands of the setting Pokémon and Pokémon training is a prevalent way of life and a common bond which the citizens of that world actively embrace.  The Pokémon are fantastical companions, champions, and partners in that world.  In the games there are people around every corner eager to show off their favorite Pokémon and put them to the test in battle.

Throughout the adventures of the games there are clumps of NPCs waiting to square off against you and your Pokémon team.  There are ill-prepared school kids with weak little Rattatas and Caterpies that they’ve caught in the school yard.  There are construction workers in hardhats working around cities with steely Magnemite companions.  Groups of swarthy leather clad punks may try to jump you with their poison types.  Cyclists and swimmers will challenge you along the way.  Criminals, old folks, librarians, shop keepers, EVERYONE has Pokémon in the Pokéworld, and because everyone has them everyone has something in common.

It’s just one of those quaint, fun, fictional universes where any individuals who try hard and do good will win, and eventually defeat the evil shadowy organizations like Team Rocket and others who secretly work against the ideals of that world by exploiting Pokémon for their own greedy ends.

I’ve had several conversations with friends over the years that involved, in some form or another, the phrases “Wouldn’t it be great if Pokémon were real.” OR “If I could live in a video game universe, it’d be the Pokémon universe.” OR “If I could just have one actual Pokémon it would be X, Y, Z.”  And watching the show those feelings are reinforced as you see the young idealistic trainers go off and adventure across the globe.

Now let me tell you a little story about Pokémon Go.

The other night at around 10pm I was letting my dogs out (my real life Pokémon, apparently I’m a terrible trainer though because they never battle for me.) and as the puggles were sniffing around I flipped out my cell phone and switched on Pokémon Go just to see if I might catch a Weedle or Bellsprout while I stood there in the backyard watching them pee.

Looking through the game I noticed a Pokémon silhouette nearby (for those who aren’t in the know that means there was a type of Pokémon lingering around which I had not yet captured.)  Being the Pokémaster I am I immediately knew that shadowed figure was the shape of an Electabuzz, a fairly rare find and something I hadn’t even seen yet in the game.

After the dogs had completed their business I ushered them back inside and set off to find this fabled electric type Pokémon.  Although navigating the in-game radar of Pokémon Go can be a bit tricky I was able to determine that the Electabuzz seemed to be on the next street over.

So I briskly began walking down the street and around the corner.

I could see the Electabuzz footprints diminishing, meaning I was moving in the right direction and getting closer.

As I approached the darkened corner I saw two other guys on bicycles come racing toward me up the street.  They were maybe in their mid to late twenties from what I could tell and their sudden appearance put me slightly on edge.  Although there wasn’t anything necessarily threatening about them, it was 10 at night, dark, the middle of the week, and I was now outnumbered.

However before I could let my fears get the best of me one of the guys held up his cell phone and circled around the end of the street on his bike.

“You playing Pokémon?”  He called out to me cheerfully.

“I am actually!”  I said relieved.

“Are you looking for the Electabuzz too?”  He followed up.

“I am!”  I quickly replied.

Both of the cyclists chuckled and again held up their phones.  “It’s about three houses down this street!”  They informed me.

I thanked them and they rode on their merry way while I marched down the street, ran into that Electabuzz precisely where they said it would be, and captured that sumbitch right then and there!

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My Electabuzz cries himself to sleep every night because he knows he’ll never capture a gym

As I was smugly walking back to my house checking out the stats on my most recent catch I had a thought.

“That was a very Pokémon-esque interaction.”  I thought to myself.  “Just walking down the street hunting rare Pokémon, when suddenly I run into a pair of other trainers on bicycles, we have a brief encounter that sets me up for the big catch at the end.”

It was like something straight out of Pokémon Red/Blue like riding down Cycling Road or climbing the Pokétower.

“Maybe Pokémon finally is real?”  I concluded.

Well done Niantic.  Well done Nintendo.  Keep it fun fellow players.

Update: The Colonel’s Pants

So my post about Colonel Wullf Yularen’s pants apparently has gained some traction recently (reread it here) .  The post has acquired quite a few new views in the past couple of weeks and the images in that post have gotten a lot of clicks.

And I do mean a lot of clicks (at least relative to the obscurity of this blog as well as the definitive obscurity of the subject matter of that particular post.)

The only thing I can come up with to explain this phenomenon is the recent release of the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  In case you haven’t seen it yet, go take a look immediately! Seriously, watch it NOW!

 

One of the tantalizing tidbits from that magnificent trailer which pertains to this discussion is the appearance of Ben Mendelsohn’s character who, from what we can tell, is a new Imperial villain.

What has me most excited about this new Imperial baddie is his uniform!

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Ben Mendelsohn as he appears in the upcoming Star Wars Anthology Movie, Rogue One.

 

Look what we have here!  It appears to be a variant of the same white and black ISB uniform which we see throughout the first Death Star during the events of A New Hope (refer to previous post for those details).  As it so happens the plot of Rogue One is going to center around the first Death Star and the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans for that battle station!

What a coincidence.  As it so happens that original Death Star was crawling with dudes who were dressed very similarly to this guy!

But if you’re a follower of this blog you’d have already expected that!

Now there are some differences between Ben’s uniform and the ISB uniforms which we see in the original Star Wars.  I’m confident this is simply a stylistic choice on the part of the filmmakers but there is a slim chance that this uniform is something new and not meant to be in line with those seen aboard the Death Star.

Anywho let’s take a minute to discuss these differences.

First the tailoring itself.  The cut and style of the white jacket seen above is very much the same as the grey and olive Imperial jackets seen in the three original Star Wars movies.  However the white uniform jackets seen in A New Hope were moderately simpler and were essentially plain chefs jackets.

Secondly this jacket has the distinctive silver Imperial code cylinders located at either shoulder of the uniform.  This feature and the small pockets set in the jacket are not found in any of the white uniform jackets we see in A New Hope.

Black gloves.  Although it is very popular for Star Wars cosplayers to sport black gloves with their Imperial uniforms there are really very few examples of that in the actual movies and there are absolutely zero examples of black gloves being worn by the white coated ISB officers from A New Hope.  However the preeminent Star Wars costuming group, the 501st Legion, does allow for the option of black gloves within their strict guidelines for most Imperial officer costumes, so there’s that.

Now that cape which is draped across this character’s shoulders is another major difference in the costume.  This is something completely new for the Imperial era uniforms and I’m guessing indicates some sort of prestigious rank or position within the Empire.  Head of the Imperial Security Bureau perhaps?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

The rank insignia is also new to this uniform and again signifies importance.  With 6 red bars above 6 blue bars that would make this character an admiral, at least according to the Empire Strikes Back system of ranking, making this character the highest ranking individual seen wearing this uniform (fun fact each movie of the original trilogy has a drastically different system of rank insignia all utilizing some variant of the red/blue/yellow rank bar combination).

With this new Mendelsohn uniform we still have the standard belt of the galactic Empire and thankfully this character is wearing the correct, BLACK PANTS, which I thoroughly discussed in the original post.

All in all I have no doubt this character will belong to the same branch of the Galactic Imperial Military as the original black and white uniformed Imperials that we see in Star Wars, now whether or not these guys are firmly defined as members of the Imperial Security Bureau, as was established in the now defunct expanded universe, is yet to be seen.

I guess what I’m saying is all of my analysis and speculation is wasted effort and that I should just sit back a few months and wait to see Rogue One!  Until then I leave you with this pic of my personal ISB uniform because of course I have one, black gloves and all!

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That is all!

 

Eternia Restoration Part 2: Hand Washed Plastic Pectorals

It looks like it’s about time for the next installment of my Eternia Restoration Project and if you’ve been waiting for a close up look at the individual action figures of my Masters of the Universe collection, then this is the post for you!

Cleaning up this group of figures wasn’t as nearly as difficult as cleaning up the mouse-urine-soaked hoard of GI Joes that comprised my Terrordrome Renovation Project a few years back.  By comparison this toy restoration will seem as easy as a sparkling wave of magic issued from the elegant fingers of the mysterious Sorceress of Castle Grayskull!

To begin I separated all of the accessories and weapons, figured out exactly what I had, and (after a quick internet search) sorted them all out to the appropriate heroes and villains.  Then over the course of a few days I gathered up small batches of the figures and gave them a dunk in a bucket of soapy hot water, gently scrubbed them with a toothbrush, rinsed them off, vigorously shook out any excess water from their hollow abdomens, then toweled them off and let them dry over night.

Like I said most of these figures were in pretty good shape, all things considered.  Sadly several figures I thought to be complete were actually missing arms, accessories, or were just completely broken.  Also there were a couple of otherwise flawless figures who had fallen victim to unprovoked pet attacks and were irrevocably scarred by dog teeth.  Apparently the family dog at the time was deep in the puppy chewing stage when some of these figures entered my collection.

Battle wounds add character!

In a few of these cases I was able to take a very small pair of wire cutters and trim away some of the gnarly plastic snags and gouges.  After some delicate snips and clips it actually helped shape up some of the nastier bite marks, making the figures slightly less disfigured.

As far as cleanliness went though there really wasn’t much to contend with.  One or two of the Eternians had been tatted up with some marker at some point, a couple were just mysteriously sticky, but the only real troublesome figure was the legendary Moss Man.

Covered in a fine coat of coarse green felt, Moss Man not only had fur adhered to his stock Masters of the Universe body but said exterior moss was originally endowed with a distinct perfumed scent.  All of that situation; a brillo pad fur, adhesive undercoat, and whatever chemical magic was used to induce that smell combined with years of play meant that Moss Man had gathered a lot of gunk, identifiable and otherwise, all across his namesake moss!

Even cleaning Moss Man however was not an arduous task, he just took a little extra time as I gently brushed out the years of embedded carpet fibers and pet hair.

All in all the best way to describe this effort is to say that I spent a few hours of my free time giving sponge baths to a large group of musclebound men in my basement.

But enough about that let’s take a look at the results!

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Clearly Eternia has a shortage of shirts.  Pictured are two average varietals of He-Man on the ends, Thunder Punch He-Man on the left, and He-Man’s alter ego Prince Adam wielding his fuchsia sword middle right.  Thunder Punch He-Man is the most complete all the other He-Men pictured are missing most, if not all, of their accessories.

 

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Here we see a group of recently washed heroes of Eternia: Mekaneck, Cyclone, Wundar, and Ram Man.  Mekaneck is missing his armor, Cyclone is complete with his lenticular chest piece and shield.  Wundar is actually a mail away promotional variant of He-Man given away from Wonder Bread.  Fans and collectors gave the brown haired version the name Wundar and the name stuck!

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More heroes! Fisto (you read that right!), the aforementioned Moss Man, Man-E-Faces, and Roboto with theme song by Styx.  Moss Man is complete with his brown club.  Roboto is missing one of his interchangeable arms. Man-E-Faces and Fisto are missing their weapons.

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Childhood favorite Orco with his weird stack of coins accessory which features other characters pictures on them.  (Of course most of those are missing)  He also has a rip cord that would send him spinning.  Also pictured is a random Orco stamp that was in my collection.

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Baddest of bad asses SKELETOR seen here in his battle damage variety and undamagable original flavor!  Although battle damage Skeletor is missing his accessories I was ecstatic to find that the classic version was 100% intact!

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Four of my favorite baddies: Fakor, Trap Jaw, Stinkor (the villainous scented equivalent of Moss Man), and Tri-Clops.  These guys were the best at being the worst!  Whenever I was plotting evil deeds these would be my go to guys to make it happen.  However in the process they lost most of their accessories.  Except Stinkor, though at this point he has lost his distinctive scent.

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Skeletor’s B-Squad: Mosquitor, Whiplash, Webstor, and Spikor.  (I’m sensing a pattern here with the names.)  Whiplash was one of the figures that received the worst of the canine maulings.  Although you can’t quite see it in the picture his entire right arm is chewed all to hell.  A lot of cool action features with these four though, dripping blood, whipping tails, zip lines, and retractable arms!

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The Evil Horde!  A revitalization of the Masters of the Universe meant new and better figures!  Enter the Horde, these guys pulled double duty battling He-Man AND She-Ra.  Who has the time?  Seen here Mantenna, Hordak himself, Grizzlor, and Leech.  Leech had a great feature, he had a vacuum sealing mouth.  When you pressed a button on his back he could suction up to flat surfaces!

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Let’s not forget about King Hiss and the Snake Men!  Actually let’s go ahead and forget about them, I was never really much of a fan.  But these two were pretty cool, Rattlor and Sssqueeze.  In my story lines these guys were always on loan from King Hiss in order to repay Skeletor and/or Hordak a favor.  These were the only Snake Men to ever grace my MOTU collection

 

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Sadness.  Let us not forget our fallen heroes (and villains).  Here we have the broken toys.  Clawful, Man-at-Arms, and Trap Jaw.  Thankfully I had two Trap Jaws and the other was in fairly decent shape.  Unfortunately Clawful is missing an arm, and that crazy crab curmudgeon was one of my favorites!  Similarly Man-at-Arms has encountered an equally disarming fate.  I’ll be vigilantly on the lookout for these missing limbs as I occasionally go through old boxes at home and at my parents house!

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Once again we have my wife’s She-Ra collection, finally reuniting Prince Adam with his sister Princess Adora under the roof of Castle Grayskull!  Pictured: SweetBee, Frosta, Perfuma, She-Ra, Bow, Glimmer, Castaspella, and the jealous beauty Catra!

 

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And just for shits and giggles here is my small collection of Masters of the Universe figures from the early 2000’s as sculpted by the legendary Four Horsemen.  As a kid I wanted the original Merman and Beast Man but they always eluded me but that all changed in 2003!

Well there you have it!  Up next the VEHICLES!

 

That is all!

The Meme Awakens

With so much Star Wars stuff going on this week (The Force Awakens on Blu-Ray!  First Rogue One trailer!)  There was no way I would be able to restrain myself from making at least a short Star Wars post!

Seeing as how I am eager to continue my ongoing “Voided Warranty” meme campaign I decided the next logical step would be to add another droid to the meme, this time from The Force Awakens.  So after going through the movie and taking some random screen caps I came up with the next installment below.

AND if you’re not familiar with the voided warranty meme of which this is a part of see the previous posts about it HERE and HERE!

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“Do not drag your BB unit around in a net, this may bend its antennae and void any active warranties.”

That is all!