RAMPAGE – Review by Case Wright, ALT Title – The Video Game Movie Curse Is Broken by Dwayne’s Awesome Arms!


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I thoroughly enjoyed this film!! Why? Because it’s a Dwayne Johnson movie.  He’s an actor, a brand, and you know what you’re going to get.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Did it have a couple of slow moments?  Yep.  Were the characters, especially the villains, one dimensional or 8-Bit?  Sure.  But, so what? Rampage is fun and sometimes it’s great to take a bath in nostalgia and see some shit blow up.

A Dwayne Johnson movie is really a sub-genre all its very own.  I won’t compare it to other movies.  His movies are also fun because we just like Dwayne Johnson so much as a Man that we feel like he’s a friend.  It becomes reflexive that we hear Dwayne Johnson has a movie out, it’s as if one of our friends just made one.  I told a guy at work that I was going to see a Dwayne Johnson movie, he knew exactly what I meant, and he referred to Dwayne Johnson as a National Treasure.  Yes, we’re now getting married in the fall and are registered at Pottery Barn.

I played Rampage when I was a wee bairn.  In fact, with the help of my friend Robbie, we stayed up all night and destroyed the whole country. Congratulations! I, like every boy in the Y-Generation, was excited for this film.  Sidenote: sorry everyone, Millenials are no more, you’ve been folded into Y, but take heart – “Even children get older, I’m gettin older …too.”

An Evil Corporation, run ostensibly by Ivanka Trump and her Generic Trump brother, create a virus that mutate ordinary animals into genetically spliced super-creatures that run amok.  That’s it- that’s the plot- and like the video game upon which it was based, Rampage the Film is beautifully Wabi Sabi.

The film begins with The Rock who is closed off from people because after seeing their terrible acts in war and poaching, he just can’t let them in. *sniff*  The Rock’s best friend is George- an albino gorilla- who can sign.  Soon, the Trump family look alikes’ experiment accidentally infects George, a wolf, a crocodile, and a partridge in a pear tree. The Partridge Monster doesn’t actually destroy anything, but he blatantly re-gifts Christmas presents; therefore, he’s the worst monster of all because he destroys your self-esteem.

George, the wolf, and crocodile get BIGGER, the government – embodied by Jeffrey Dean Morgan- try to stop the monsters, but can’t.  Jeffrey becomes an ally of The Rock, helping him along the way with helicopter keys, air strikes, and lending him his edger so The Rock can really make his lawn POP for barbecue season.  The Trumps put out a signal to draw the monsters to Chicago, hoping they’ll kill each other off.  The Trumps hope that they’ll be able to take a sample of the monster flesh, replicate it, and sell it to whomever.  It doesn’t go well.  The monsters go nuts.  I’m not going to spoil anything.  Needless to say, the last 40 minutes of the film are amazingly satisfying.

Congratulations! Dwayne you’ve done it! The Video Game Curse is Broken.

 

Here’s The Trailer for Strafe!


I can’t wait until this movie comes out!

(I know, I know.  Strafe’s a game and this trailer is an elaborate parody.  It’s also a very well-done parody which is why I’m sharing it here!)

(I have a feeling this game will be very popular in certain offices of the TSL Bunker…)

Here’s The First Trailer for Destiny 2!


And finally, here’s the first trailer for Destiny 2.  I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t know much about any of this but I do know that there was more than a little excitement here at the TSL Bunker when this was released.

Is it just me or can Lance Reddick make almost anything sound noble?

Destiny 2 will be released, for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, on September 8th.

Law & Order In The Internet Archive: Crime Fighter


I have just returned from another exploration of the old MSDOS games stored at the Internet Archive and I think I may have found one of the most addictive games ever programmed.  Without further ado, let’s play Crime Fighter (1993, Peter Steffen)!

(There is an updated version of Crime Fighter that can be downloaded from here.  This review is solely for the version that can be found on the Internet Archive.)

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Crime Fighter is a game where you attempt to become the top boss of a small city’s criminal underworld.  When I started the game, this is the first thing I saw:

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Got it?  This is an educational game!

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You are one of the four gangsters mentioned above.  The other gangsters are your friends and loved ones, assuming you can convince them to play the game with you.  I could not.

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Fear the Citizen Kanes!

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After naming my gang, I was randomly assigned some stats.   I am more brutal than smart and I’m also as weak as a little kitten.  I’ll be running that city in no time.

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Rules?  Who needs rules?  I never read the rules.  I can figure this game out on my own.  What I can’t figure out is which of the two options I’ve selected.  Since I’m using the arrow keys to make my selection, it’s not easy to tell which option I’ve highlighted.  Have I selected no?  The only way to know for sure is to press enter.

crime-fighter-7‘I guess I must have selected yes because there’s the rules.

After all of that, it was finally time to get this game started.  At the start of each turn, you see this:

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I looked at my six choices.  I was not ready to quit the game and, since I was playing a single-player game, there was no next player.   Run through the town sounded like fun but I wasn’t here to have fun.  I was here to become the top ganglord in the city!  The best way to do that?  Get rid of all the other gangs.

I selected gang war.

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That didn’t work.   Apparently, you can only have a gang war if you are actually playing with other people.  That was good news for the Citizen Kanes, though.  With no other gangs around, the city belonged to us.  I guess that made me the winner, right?

Seeing as how I was the city’s new criminal overlord, I decided it was time to run through the city.

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Where should I visit first?  I knew I was only allowed 25 moves before the turn ended so my options were limited.  I decided to pay a visit to the building with the H on the rooftop.

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That explains the H.  I decided to enter the hotel.

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“Give me all your money!”

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What happened next occurred so quickly that I did not get a chance to capture a screenshot.  Four gangsters showed up with baseball bats and beat me down.  It was not the greatest moment in the history of the Citizen Kanes.

Things only got worse.

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Bribing the police was the right thing to do but now I was down 1500 DMs.  I was not sure how much money I had left so, when I was transported back to the city map with 15 moves left in the turn, I decided to visit the bank.

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Coming back at night seemed like a good and simple way to make some money!

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Who needs instructions?  How difficult can it be?

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Again, I pushed the wrong button and I got the instructions anyway.

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What the Hell am I supposed to do with that?  Can I see those instructions again?

Too late.  The alarm went off.  It’s a good thing that I can always just bribe the police.

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Did I push the wrong button again?

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Yes, I did.

This is when I discovered is that, while you can keep backing up from them for as long as you want to, there is no way to escape the police.  You have to fight them.  That’s a problem when they have guns and you do not.

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That did not work out.  I guess I’m dead now.

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No, I’m not dead.  But I am in prison for 1 month, which amounts to four game turns.  If I had been playing with another player, this would have given them time to steal all of my territory while I was in jail.  Luckily, since I was playing a single player game, being in jail did not hurt me one way or the other.

After I was released, I found myself back here:

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This time, I decided not to go to the bank or the hotel.  Instead, I went down to the bottom of the map and visited the subway station.

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I learned my lesson the last time!  I bribed the cops and they let me go.

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Where to now?  It looks like there might be a gun shop above the subway station.

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Eddie, I like the way you think.  Show me your weapons.

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Hand grenades might be helpful but let’s take a look at that pistol first.

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Thanks for nothing, Eddie.

If I can’t afford a gun, maybe I can steal one.  And who has more guns than police?  As I started to make my way to the police station at the top of the map, this suddenly happened:

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Thanks, officer!

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Here’s the police station!  Let’s see if I can trick a flatfoot out of his piece.

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Sorry, stealing a gun is not an option.  If I wanted a weapon, I was going to have to find the money to pay for it.  But how could I steal the money if I didn’t have a gun?

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Is that a casino down at the bottom of the map?  My prayers have been answered!

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Blackjack has always been my game and I am not a bad poker player either.  But I needed money quickly and that meant betting it all one turn of the roulette wheel.

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Great.

To recap: After playing the game for fifteen minutes, I have spent a month in jail, I do not have a gun, and I am now broke.  The Citizen Kanes have seen better days.

Maybe I should just go rob that big shopping mall.

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Money transport in the evening?  That sounds like an easy score!

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How difficult can that be?

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I just have to wait for that one guard to move before I move down.  There he goes!  This is so easy, I can’t believe I did not try it earlier…

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This is probably not going to end well.

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No, it did not end well.  Not only was I captured but I did not have any money to offer the police.  I ended up spending another 4 game turns in jail.  When I was released, I looked back on what I had accomplished after playing the game for 30 minutes and it became clear that I really only had one option.

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I may not have done so well on my first try but Crime Fighter is an addictive game and I look forward to playing it again in the future!  msdos_crime_fighter_1993

How to be a fulfilled artist… A Discussion with Tom Abernathy


I’m sitting in my office with the speakerphone on and listening to one of my artistic heroes – Tom Abernathy – speak as his creation The Freak from Destroy All Humans! 2.  Yes, this really happened and it was …. awesome.

Our discussion covers how Tom started his career, his past achievements, and what more he wants to give us.

When I first started speaking with him, I didn’t understand him.  Where was the angst-ridden melancholy that is so familiar in so many artists? Where was the bitterness?  I realized that his artistic process was totally different from that of a TV and movie writer who spends their artistic career in a great deal of isolation punctuated by a team of constructive criticism and clearly defined tasks.  His job touches all facets of the creative process, allowing him to fully realize his creative voice and vision.

Tom’s video game narrative career influenced or decided the dialogue, direction, and casting of many of our most beloved games. His career began in Los Angeles doing coverage – summarizing and reviewing scripts to determine if they were worth making.  He did this job for twenty-five dollars a script.  Through a connection, Joseph Donaldson, Tom was able to get a job writing scripts for Activision Studios.  It was not like today. Tom said, “The writing [for games] was terrible then.”  The video game writing done by the designers and producers who had little need for professional writers at that time.  His first game “Dark Reign 2” did not do well and Tom’s future as a professional game writer was uncertain.  However, something occurred in 2004 that made him eagerly look for work in TV, Film, or Games – he had a baby on the way.

Once again, Joseph Donaldson pushed Tom’s name forward as the head writer.  This was for Destroy All Humans!, a Mars Attacks set in the 1950s where you played the Alien Invader.   Tom had a unique take on both the people who inhabited the world and the Hero of the game – Crypto.

Tom brought the satirical humor to DAH!  Tom created the premise that “the 50s were Ward and June Clever and Eisenhower exterior, but everything going on in their minds must be depraved and wild.” Since Crypto was able to read minds, as he leveled towns and harvested human brains, we got to read and hear the unspoken, providing both comic relief and clues to completing missions.  He wanted Crypto to be “two parts Jack Nicholson and one part Charlton Heston.”

This was revolutionary because unlike the characters in “Doom” and other FPS, Crypto had a personality and a story.  Although Crypto would be insulted to read this, he had real humanity.  This will shock many fans, but “the original [Crypto voice] had a stilted tone like the 50s saucer movies”.  YIKES!   Tom wanted Crypto to be a “cowboy walking id, very American individualist.”  Therefore, it was “Jack Nicholson for id and Charlton Heston for cowboy.” He continued.  “[Crypto] needed the pomposity of Charlton Heston, [he] needed arrogance/confidence with swagger like Soylent Green. TOUGH!”

What was Tom’s role besides being the writer?  Were people lording over him? How much freedom did he have?  It turns out that he had A LOT of artistic control.  Why? “The [game developers] were in Brisbane and [he] only interacted with them by phone and email.”  Therefore, the geographic separation allowed Tom to have immense creative influence that would not have been afforded to him otherwise.  For example, Tom knew what he wanted Crypto to sound like and Tom was able to do the casting.  Yes, creatives – he got to do the casting.

DAH!2 Crypto was pitched as a James Bond/Austin Powers.  There was a pause in the discussion and I had to ask about The Freak and if it was true that he was the voice?  Yes!!! “The voice director, Doug Carrigan, and I realized that, in all our months-long work to get the important parts cast and recorded, there was one reasonably significant role we had totally forgotten about: The Freak. [We] were out of money and time, we had no choice but for me to hop in the booth and perform The Freak myself in what was probably the final 15 minutes of the entire series of recording sessions.  Apologies to Bobcat Goldthwaite; I had zero time to come up with an original take on the character, so I just decided to commit to the idea of Goldthwaite on a really bad acid trip.”  Yes, he did the voice for me and it was …. EPIC!!!

I asked him about the DAH!2 side missions.  “Leanne Taylor did a ton of work [assigned] late in production.”  Leanne Taylor – from me- THANK YOU!!!

I asked him about getting Anthony Stewart Head to play Ponsonby, who would’ve been a get for the time.  This was an interesting story because it not only reflected the creative process for a narrative, but also the limits of their power.  Tom had directed and recorded another actor to play Poncenby.  “I had cast an older man who brought out the humor and after he was recorded, THQ UK Marketing emails – “We want you to cast a ‘name’ actor from the UK so we can sell more units over here.”  I was curious as to Tom’s reaction.  “Not great. No one ever bought a game because someone voice acted in it because you don’t see the actors!”

What’s Happening Now?

Infinite-Arms.com

“The story is like Matrix meets Fringe. “There are mechs, known as Metamods, that come in both software and hardware version.  The hardware versions are actual 3-D printed action figures as much as ten or twelve inches tall, with 200 coats of paint and more than 20 points of articulation.” I didn’t really understand this until I watched the above video.  There are toys and a video game component.  In other words, this will be really badass.  Most importantly, “you don’t have to pour tons of money into the game to be successful! Jumo the company behind the game- wants players to get value with or without investing money.” There are RPG components, platform, and toy components!

Given Tom’s track record of bringing story and humanity to games, this will be a MUST BUY for the holidays!

Cheers!