Project G: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

More Memorable Title: The one with MECHA-KING GHIDORAH!!!

Yeah!  It’s Godzilla-time!

So, last time we left of Godzilla with Godzilla vs. Biollante, an ambitious film that ended up falling short of its financial goals.  Longtime series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka wanted to follow it up with something safer, using more material that had proven successful in the Heisei era, leading to the more familiar King Ghidorah returning.  Unfortunately, his failing health limited his involvement, leaving this film and most of Godzilla’s future works in the hands of Shogo Tomiyama, who had co-produced Biollante with him.  Tomiyama continued bringing the film back to its Showa-era roots, establishing a more fantastic atmosphere and simple story with this film, taking it away from the gritty trailblazing of the past two Heisei era works.  Director and writer Kazuki Oumori, thinking that the real reason Godzilla vs. Biollante fell short in the box office was because of being outshone by Back to the Future, added a time travel story to it as well, thinking that’s what people were going for.

So that’s how we ended up with this film.  Now you know.  

As you might guess from the above, it is a bit of a hodge-podge.  Feels like it has a lot of puzzle pieces going in that it has a hard time matching up with each other.  Has a lot of cast members (although not as much as Biollante), a lot of moving parts, and moves at a pretty quick pace.  The Heisei era had really started to find its own identity with the last film, and this movie sees it turn a corner into something more rooted in the Showa era, although it still carries a lot of Heisei establishments along with it.  

It also serves as a retcon of sorts in the Heisei era.  It retells Godzilla’s origin in a way that’s firmly different than that of the original 1954 G and his Showa successor.  From what I understand, there was still some question of continuity by the time this film originally came out, whether the Heisei era lined up with the Showa or not, and this firmly establishes it as something of its own.  Although it also messes a bunch up.  Whatever.  Also, Heisei Godzilla was already canonically bigger than either of the other ones, but apparently Toho wanted him even grander than that.  So they do that here.  Makes him more terrifying for the monster fights to come.

So, how does it all come together?  Well, read on to find out.  

The year is 2204.  We’re underwater.  A submarine is investigating some sort of giant monster corpse.  People are saying mysterious things about it that we won’t realize what they mean until later.  And then the camera moves so we can see just what kind of corpse they’re investigating.  And it turns out, it’s GHIDORAH!

And then all of a sudden the year is 1992 again.  Do you remember that year?  I sure don’t.  Anyways, the world’s all afluffle because a UFO appeared and is flying around.  A bunch of news outlets are covering it.  So there’s this guy who used to write really successful sci-fi novels and now writes for some magazine or other.  And there’s this girl who obviously wants up ons and she goes up to him and goes “Dude!  Aliens! You’ve totally got to write about this!”  And he’s like “Pfffft!  What do you think I am?  A rich and famous sci-fi author?”  And she’s like “Yes.  It turns out that’s exactly what you are.” But he’s still like “No.  I don’t care about the fact that we’ve got proof that so much of what we thought about the universe is wrong and there’s new and exciting forms of life out there.  I’d rather write about what that one crazy loony was raving about in the middle of nowhere, about how he saw dinosaurs in WWII and Godzilla is really one of them and saved his life or something.”  Let’s call the guy Fred.  Because I don’t remember his real name and no descriptor is coming to me, but he totally looks like a Fred.

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The Hollow Generation

Man, I feel like I’ve done this sort of thing before. Getting into a new generation the complaining about the games there being less different than I expected. Maybe it’s because I’m too closed-minded. Maybe it’s because new games early in a console’s life are generally much more modest than what we’ll see later. And maybe it’s because an update in hardware is making less and less of a difference as the gaming medium progresses and matures and the natural course of diminishing returns sets in.

That can be left for the experts. Even though those last two are totally true. Either way, what we’re left with is a now familiar feeling of me stepping into a new generation of video games, and me wondering why they even bothered with the hardware separation.

Of course, this year, it’s a little different than it’s been in the past. Previous generation changeovers, it’s always been a game that lured me through. I picked up an N64 because of Super Mario and Mario Kartt 64ses. ‘Twas Smash Bros that lured me through to getting a Gamecube. Then the whole spat of releases for the Wii, followed by Dead Rising showing me the worth of an Xbox 360. And finally, Fallout 4 and Breath of the Wild brought me to the previous generation of consoles.

This time, though, it was simply the trials of time. Consoles tend to be hardy, but computers not so much. Since it released, I’ve been waiting for my opportunity to pick up a PS5, but that never came. Been sitting on enough credit card rewards to essentially get one for free at MSRP, but an opportunity to buy the console at MSRP is quite rare. Supply shortages, plus the shakeups to the market on both the supply and demand side due to the pandemic, ensures that only a lucky, privileged few who can wait for supplies to drop and be on top of them when they do are able to pick one up. For the rest of us, we have to wait. And so I did, until my hand was forced. My previous PC started showing wear and tear and indications that it wasn’t going to last much longer. So I needed a new one. And while I was doing that, I figured I’d pick up one capable of playing modern games.

So I did. And now I’m looking at the modern spate of games, and I’m not really interested in many of them that I couldn’t have gotten on my PS4 or my old PC already. Invested in a highly powered gaming laptop with all sorts of features and settings I don’t even understand to ensure it can get the best resolution and framerate possible, and most of my time spent on it so far has been in a ported PS1 game and a sprite based indie game that released like 5 years ago. And it’s not because new games aren’t new. I’ll definitely be getting to them eventually. But they don’t take full advantage of the new hardware. They don’t give me any new experiences. So many new hardware generations really expanded on what a game could do. Until last gen, where the updates were mostly graphical. And then comes this new one, where again, the only real update people are pointing to is that graphics are slightly better, loading somewhat smoother. Heck, most games I’m actually looking into next generation for, such as Lost Judgment, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and on, are still available on my Playstation 4 for basically no material difference from the PS5 versions.

Which does make me wonder what’s the point to the new hardware. I’m sure the fact that most new releases for modern consoles are also available on last gen’s machine owes something to the aforementioned inability for mass markets to equip themselves with the most modern gear, but even so. If I can get a game brand new game for my last gen consoles that’s almost exactly the same as those on the current gen, what’s the point? Maybe we moved on to a new hardware generation too quickly.

I’m sure eventually, a PS5 will wind it’s way onto my shelf. And I’m viewing my new laptop as an investment, enabling me to keep up with the new releases when inevitably they do move on from last gen’s hardware. But for now, we’re already a year into the next hardware generation, and as far as I can tell, it may as well have not happened at all.

If Left is Wrong I Don’t Want to be Right. The Left-Handers of Video Games, Part IV!

One of the things I pride myself on with this blog is having the most complete listing of left-handed video game characters on the internet.  A series of posts, documenting the rare representatives of the genetically superior laterality that appear in our electronic entertainments.  Kind of a silly little thing, but as a leftie myself and it being a perennially hard time finding representation of that among my chosen medium, it means something to me.  But it’s been years since I last wrote something up about this, and you know, part of having the most complete listing of anything is that you need to update it once in a while as time passes and more examples of that subject emerges.


So let’s correct that now.  The previous three posts include all the left-handers I’d personally encoutered up to that point in games, at least that I knew of.  But now, years later, I’m just as young but significantly wiser, and let’s put that updated wisdom to use, in this, an addition to the list of those characters in games who are just innately better than everyone else.

Nero-Devil May Cry

The son of Virgil, the traditional way-cooler-than-the-actual-protagonist rival character, Nero takes over main character duties from that right-handed goober, Dante, for the few most recent mainline games.  And dude is a beast at that.  See, his right hand has some devil grappling powers, letting him style on his enemies then pull them back in when they get knocked away, reaching combos that Dante and Virgil have to struggle more to achieve.  Nero heads up two mostly good games in the series out of his two shots at it, whereas Dante only has one out of his three.  Now, you could say that’s the result of Nero leading the games at a point where what makes a good DMC was more firmly established and the Capcom team was more versed in it, but we all know really it’s that left-handed blade- and gun-work that leads him to success.

Soda Popinski-Punch Out

There’s a couple of Punch Out character that take southpaw stances, but Soda Popinski, aka Vodka Drunkinski, is the only one who consistently does that throughout all his appearances, so outside of the previous post’s Super Mac, he’s the only one from the series I feel confident enough in to count here.  The others are just posers.  Anyways, Soda Popinski might not have been the first boxer to give you trouble in the old school punchout, but he might have been the first one to make you cry, with the combination of his high speed and great defense making him hard to score counterpunches on, the foundation of most of your offense.  Much like real life southpaws, his left-handed offense makes him hard to read for your weak right-handed mind, and he benefits from that greatly.

Patrick Galloway-Clive Barker’s Undying

What’s this?  We’ve finally got a second left-handed character on this list from a game that was developed outside Japan?  I never thought I’d see the day.  But here we are.

So, I’ve barely played Clive Barker’s Undying, so I can’t really hype up Patrick Galloway that much.  Instead, let’s talk about why he’s left handed, because mechanics-wise, it’s pretty interesting.  Undying is a PC FPS where you’ve usually got both a weapon and a magic spell ready at the same time.  Usually, it’s left-click to shoot, and Undying has Patrick Galloway left handed so that visually corresponds with your left mouse button.  Your right click, and his right hand, are dedicated to the spells.  It works out very elegantly.  And I really don’t know why more FPSes haven’t taken that same tack.

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Now Playing: Check-in Edition

Things have been quiet here this month. You may have noticed. Time has been fighting against me. And losing. Like it always does. But it’s still putting up a fight. And that has cramped my schedule something fierce. I had started another post for this blog, a follow up on my old post on New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 covering this year’s tournament, only to run out of time to make anything notable about it before the G1 actually started. So it’s been a while, with no new content. And I don’t have the time to make anything new and notable.

So instead I’ll make this. A quick little number on what’s been going on in the games I’ve been playing. And hopefully it’ll be amusing for you. But to be honest, I’m mostly doing this for me. Because posting is a thing I want to keep doing, and when there’s something you want to keep doing, it’s best to make it a habit and then continue the habit, even as times get tight. So me posting this little thing now makes it more likely I’ll be in the frame of mind and decision-making capabilities to be making more serious posts later, capische? That’s a word I used. It means something. I think.

Whatever, let’s go.

Disgaea

You can check the full write up on this thing here. In that post, I highlighted how my original plans were to largely eschew the Item World grinding and focus on the main plotline through the game. That hasn’t exactly worked out. I’ve found myself stuck in this loop. I go into the Item World to make a piece of equipment I like much stronger. But if you do good at setting off Geo Chains, you can win more items within the Item World. And some of those are also pieces of equipment I like and want to make stronger. So I go in there. And get more items I really like and want to make stronger. And so on. The item world offers really complicated combat setups and battlegrounds, so I’ve actually been really enjoying the grind. Is it even really grinding if you’re having a good time with it? I don’t know. Going by definitions I’ve established before, probably not. So there. Disgaea’s not grindy at all.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy

I dated someone who was super into Fullmetal Alchemist. Hence how this game ended up in my collection. This was my camping game, recently. Because the DS I’ve been using for travel has been the worse for wear and it’s L and R buttons don’t work well anymore, and this game uses L and R for functions you can do on the touchscreen, so it actually worked out very well. I have multiple DSes. For reasons. It’s all Nintendo’s fault.

Anyways, this is about the sort of game you’d expect if you had an anime license and a bit of creativity but very little time and money. It’s a two hour game that runs through the entirety of the 51 episode Fullmetal Alchemist anime (the original one, not the Brotherhood version/Manga). So as you can imagine, it sums up quite a lot and doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you’ve already seen the anime. But I have to say, I found playing an FMA beat ’em up rather refreshing, even if it was simple as all get out. And didn’t explain functions vital to progression in game. But more things should have beat ’em ups attached to them. I kind of miss beat ’em ups.

Xenoblade Chronicles

I really like Xenoblade Chronicles overall. Beautiful scenery and an excellent soundtrack, mostly likeable characters, Dunban and his sexy self, it’s a really great game. I’ve started it up a few times over the years, but never got all that far into it, comparatively. Because I always focus on doing all the great many sidequests the game has. The copious amounts of sidequests. The hideously huge amount of sidequests. I’d get started, get focused on doing absolutely everything, and then burn out 10-20 hours in and give up on it.

This time, I’ve taken some advice telling me that the sidequests are toxic, and played the game only completing the quests that were on my way or particularly interesting to me. And it feels like a completely different game that way. Plot’s progressing at a good clip, I’m constantly seeing new areas, it’s a lot more fun this way, overall. It’s always been a great game, but I’m feeling now that I never really got to see it at its full potential until I stopped worrying about the sidequests. It’s really as transcendent as its reputation suggests, now.

Way of the Passive Fist

Speaking of beat ’em ups, here’s a beat ’em up where you barely beat any of ’em up. It’s a game that grabbed me by its concept and how well it seemed to play out in video. You don’t have any regular attacks, and instead have to parry, dodge, and poke your way through a goon-filled wasteland, letting your enemies tire themselves out with their own attacks until you can simply knock them over. Each specific enemy has their own specific attack pattern, and streams can get quite complicated, particularly when you have a number of enemies packed in against you.

The game was fun, and lasted a couple of hours, but I felt it would have worn out its concept if it was any longer than that. It has just enough content to fill those hours, but even then, it started to feel a little stale by the end. Still, though, the combination of beat ’em up with a reaction type of gameplay similar to rhythm games was certainly not bad for most of it.

Scribblenauts

Scribblenauts is an amazing game. That doesn’t make it a good game, but it is really impressive the amount of content and viable options they gave you here. The central idea is that there’s an in game dictionary that is really quite expansive, and anything that’s in there, you can just create and insert into a scene to try and solve whatever puzzles or challenges are placed ahead of you. The amount of things you can work with are huge, and the game really opens itself up for some delicious lateral thinking. Like, for example, one mission has a bunch of soldiers against a group of zombies, and your goal is to get all the soldiers zombified before they kill all the zombies. You could set up a wall blocking their shots, and just remove it when the zombies get close. Or you could set up a series of blocks and ramps to give the zombies cover as they approach. Or you could just do what I did, and create a new zombie and just drop it right on the soldier’s heads. It also has a lot of possibilities for self-imposed challenges, and really shines when you get into parts where you’re expected to solve the same puzzle three times in a row with different solutions each time. And this is all in a DS game.

I just which it was more fun to play. The amount of things you can create is staggering and the puzzles offer ample opportunity to use them, but it is so fiddly and such a pain to control, and it relies on a physics engine that seems to hate all logic and good sense. The mental work you need to do is great, but I’ve had so many perfectly valid solutions ruined because they game just wasn’t taking input the way it was supposed to or something weird happened with objects knocking into each other. It’s a shame. This could have been so much more, had it had a better game behind it’s concept.

Disgaeadventures

I’ve had some interest in Disgaea for a while.  It’s a Tactics-style Strategy RPG, and I’ve never met one of those I didn’t like.  I’ve heard tales of the grind involved in this game, the levels going into the thousands, the massive amount of time required, and well, that’s kind of a turn-off for me.  A while back, though, AK did a series of his Deep Read posts on the Disgaea series, and certainly made them sound quite appealing.  So, that, coupled with the promise that the grind wasn’t really that bad unless you’re going after the side content, convinced me to give it a try.  So I picked up the first Disgaea.  And added it to my copious PC game backlog.  And there it sat.  Because that is the fate of anything added to my backlog.  Until, eventually, it gets pulled out, dusted off, and played with joy.  And it was Disgaea’s turn for that recently!

I’m about 5 hours into the game now.  I approached it with trepidation, but what I found there really wasn’t what I expected.   And I found things interesting enough that I felt like sharing my experiences.  So, we’re going to have this, half first impressions post, half after action report.  Something similar to that first post of my Dark Souls Let’s Play.  Except this one, I don’t really plan on turning into a series, but hey, we’ll see.

I played a bit extra to grab screenshots after typing this up, so yes, these don’t always line up with my narrative here. Don’t @ me.

So, a bit of story to start us off.  Our main guy is Laharl, son of King Hardtospelllongname, who ruled over the demon world.  While Laharl was taking a two year long nap, his dad died, passing his rule down to him, except he kept sleeping, so his kingdom all split up into arguing warlords fighting for the scraps of it.  Eventually, Etna, who super obviously has ulterior motives for it, wakes him up and sets him to go beat up all the other demons and put his rightful kingdom back together.  Got it?  Ok.

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Project G: Godzilla vs Biollante (1989)

More Memorable Title: The one the MPAA rated PG for ‘Traditional Godzilla Violence’.

Usually, I lead into these things by talking a bit about the development of the film.  This time, I’m going to take a bit of a different tack, and talk about getting this movie instead.  Toho licenses the western distribution rights for the Godzilla franchise on a film by film basis.  Which leads to tons of different companies having the rights to different films in the franchise, which, for a long time, made it rather difficult to just pick up and watch through the whole Godzilla series.  It’s gotten better in recent years, with Criterion Collection securing the western rights of all the Showa Era films and making those readily available, and Sony holding longtime rights over all the rest of the Heisei era after this as well as the complete Millennium era and releasing some very handy and affordable compilations, but there’s two of Toho’s film from the pre-Reiwa eras that are still largely left out of easy accessibilty.  There’s the Return of Godzilla, which has been out of print for a while but it seems Kraken Publishing still released enough DVDs to make them affordable today.  And then there’s this one.  Miramax licensed out a few limited runs of DVDs, but Toho eventually pulled the license from them, and now nobody has the Western distribution rights to Godzilla vs. Biollante.  There’s no streaming of this movie, and the DVDs fetch a pretty high price, making this the absolutely hardest Godzilla film to get your eyes on.  I managed to find it for what I thought was a reasonable price, but even then, I ended up paying more for it than you would for any brand new, modern day home video release.  

So just keep in mind, what I’m about to relate to you is a rare Godzilla delicacy.  

The Return of Godzilla was financially successful, but not wildly so.  They wanted to do a sequel to it, but the minimal success there, coupled with the failure of some other high profile monster movies at the time, convinced longtime Godzilla producer Tomoyuki Tanaka to wait for a bit, until the market was better for such films.  That ended up being a pause of a few years, before other goofy sci-fiish films, primarily Little Shop of Horrors, started seeing success.  They chose the script for their upcoming film from a contest, taking submissions from a bunch of randos, looking for something that they could use for some traditional kaiju tai kaiju goodness that also took a different tack from the beastie brawls of the showa era.  They ended up settling on the script submitted by a dentist, which was really recycled from a script he had submitted as a teenager to a similar contest for Ultraman and won there.  Director Kazuki Oumori then spent the next three years changing and editing it, using his background as a biologist to correlate Godzilla’s typical anti-nuclear themes with the heavy genetic engineering themes seen here.  In so doing, he also ended up creating and codifying what would really be going on in Godzilla’s Heisei Era.  In a lot of ways, it’s always the second entry that defines a series, and that’s no different here, with Godzilla vs. Biollante’s heavy use of continuity, psychic characters, and CGI beam effects being establishments that would continue for the rest of the series.

In release, Godzilla vs. Biollante was doomed to repeat it’s predecessor’s mild success, leading the franchise to take another small pause before returning to more familiar territory with its next entry. Toho reportedly regarded this film as ending up having too niche an appeal. It is, however, a well regarded one among fans, with a lot of commentary saying it played with some really interesting ideas, even if the actual execution of them is subject to opinion.  How does it fare in the most important opinion of all; mine?  Let’s read on to find out.

I should say, heading into this though, this is a busy, busy movie.  There’s a lot going on here.  So many characters, so many events, so much stuff.  I’m going to be selectively trimming things in a lot of this, so we’ll move pretty quickly, and there’s also going to be a lot of content I don’t touch.  Because I don’t think anyone wants to read a giant  summary of this, and I don’t have time for that anyways.

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Cooking with Testosterone: Ahi Tuna Steak

For those who only started hanging around here in the past couple of years, I occasionally do an overhyped cooking post for the amusement of my family and friends on Facebook. It’s been a few years since the last one, but crossposting here in case anyone might be entertained by this.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these cooking posts.  Not because I’ve stopped cooking awesome things, no.  Far from it.  I just haven’t really been sure you guys deserve any more of these posts.  But, everyone says that God gives us a grace we don’t deserve, and now I’m doing the same thing to all of you.  One of the very many ways in which you could say that I am god-like.  

Our subject for today is ahi tuna steak.  You may remember tuna from all those sandwiches you ate when you were a kid.  That’s not what we’re making here.  You may not know it, but tuna steak is one of the most hardcore foods there is.  Full of protein, which you need to build muscles, which you may recognize as those things you use to slay your enemies.  It’s also full of Omega 3’s which is helpful in keeping you healthy so you can continue slaying your enemies for years to come.  And it’s also something we are going to fry to an extreme and eat raw like a caveman AT THE SAME TIME.  Physics need not apply here.  And not only that, but tuna steaks are way cheaper than many other cuts of meat, and this cooks up way quick, so if you play your cards right, this is a way more accessible meal than most.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you make the world a much better place through your mere presence.  And if you’re not like me, you certainly wish you were.  You’ve got a long way to go, but you can start being more like me by making sure to source your tuna properly.  Lots of tuna are either overfished or caught using methods that also kill turtles and a bunch of other sea creatures that young women coo over, so you’ve got to use your big brain and probably that supercomputer you’re carrying in your pocket throughout the grocery store to make sure it comes from a place that’s safe to get tuna from.  Otherwise, you’re making the world a worse place, and nothing could be less like me.  

Anyways, once you get ready to eat your tuna steak, first step is to put it in your refrigerator. Because you bought that sucker frozen.  It’ll need to wait in there for about a day before it’s ready for you, so you’ll need to plan ahead.  Use that genius brain of yours to figure out “Hmm, I might want something awesome tomorrow” to let you know when you’ll be ready for it.  

Then, an hour before it’s dinnertime (again, use your giant brain to figure out when that’ll be) you’re going to want to get your marinade going.  Now we’re making Ahi Tuna Steak.  Ahi is what the Japanese call the yellowfin variety of tuna. Which means we need to use Asian flavorings for it.  Because if you don’t, then it’s just a Yellowfin Tuna Steak, and who wants that?  Now, you may recognize Asia as the place where we get all the ninjas, kung fu, and highly stylized pop singers from.  We’re going to bring a smorgasboard of flavors together on this, because my greatness knows no boundaries.  Even in cooking.  

So for the marinade, we start with soy sauce.  Soy sauce is like the ketchup of Asia.  Low sodium soy sauce, because we’re already extending your life by getting you those omega 3’s, we’re not going to shorten it by pumping you full of salt.  It goes with everything, full of flavor, and carries a salt-forward flavor profile incorporating four of the five flavor categories in a pleasant balance.  So maybe it’s nothing like ketchup, but shut up, we’re moving on.  Then, you add in a bit of toasted sesame oil.   This stuff is key.  I will throw this in to all my Asian recipes at the slightest opportunity.  It is so great, I want a candle that smells like toasted sesame oil.  Sometimes I’ll just open the bottle to take a good whiff on its own, even when I’m not using it.  It adds a good bit of umami flavor to our mix.  Umami is the Japanese word for “this tastes good but I don’t know how to describe it.”  Third key ingredient, whenever we’re making a soy sauce marinade, we want to add something sweet to balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce, as the marinading process will bring the salt forward more than the other flavors.  Either brown sugar or honey are typically good counterparts to soy sauce.  I went with honey in this one, but it’s really a judgement call.  Just recognize that my judgement is flawless.  And finally, I want a bit of a kick to it, so we add a bit of cayenne pepper, and to give it some more body of flavor to match the mouthfeel of the tuna steak, we’re going to crack some black pepper into it.  A lot of black pepper.  More than you think you’ll need.  Trust me, its hard to have too much fresh cracked black pepper.  

So you mix that all up.  You’re going to have to work hard at that too.  Because neither honey nor brown sugar dissolve into the soy sauce+oil concoction we’ve made easily.  I have the strength of ten men, so I got it done pretty easily, but you’ll have to put some work into it.  When you’re done, you pat your thawed tuna steak dry so it can absorb the marinade more readily, then put most of the marinade and the steak into a plastic bag together for an hour.  Save a little bit of the marinade, though.  You can use that as a glaze/sauce once it’s done.  

Towards the end of the hour, get yourself a pan, and get yourself some oil, and make it hot.  Very hot.  Almost as hot as me.  You want that oil furious at you as soon as something enters it.  Because we are going to take that tuna steak, and we are going to sear the hell out of that bad mother.  You want to cook it as hot as the passion that rages within you.  You could even get a small amount of char on it, and still be doing it right.  So cook it hot and fast on one side, for a couple minutes at most, then flip it over, and do it again on the other.  Again, a few minutes max.  Yes, it’s still going to be raw in the middle.  That’s the point of cooking it so hot.  That’s what makes this dish so hardcore.  And also so delicious.  When you’re done, you pull it off and let it sit for a few minutes, then slice it up, pour that marinade you saved over it, and marvel at yourself about how you made yourself an awesome dinner with like ten minutes worth of work.  In fact, I’ve spent more time typing up this post than I did actually cooking it.  You all better be grateful for this glimpse into my majesty.

As for serving it goes, you’ll want some sides to go with.  I had it with a bed of white rice and some sigeumchi namul.  I make a mean sigeumchi namul, but I’m not going into that recipe here, because see what I said at the top about deserving this.  The white rice will add some carbs to this, make it more filling and probably remind you a bit of sushi, and will also make this dish pair well with a glass of sake on the side.  Because rice, rice wine, they might have a flavor connection or something.  You figure it out.

Anyways, at this, hopefully you have a better understanding of how awesome I eat.  And as they say, you are what you eat.  So I’ll see everybody in another year or two.  Maybe I’ll grace you with something like this again, then.  

In Defense of the Dumb

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is apparently a thing.  A joint effort between Square Enix and Koei Tecmo’s Team Ninja that’s apparently remaking the OG Final Fantasy as a gritty action game.  E3 had a trailer for it, and the game… doesn’t really look all that good.  But it does look incredibly dumb, which actually makes it pretty endearing to me.  Let’s talk about that instinct for a bit.

If you’ve been around this space for a while, you know I like plenty of dumb things.  Godzilla.  Platinum’s action games.  Your girlfriend.  Like Final Fantasy Origin, there’s a certain quality to their particular implementation of simplicity and lack of complexity that makes them hit me so much better.  And I’m struggling to place what that quality is.  I believe there’s a certain amount of intention involved.  I’ve said before, that I like dumb things, but I don’t like stupid ones.  As for what makes the distinction between dumb and stupid, well, it’s really subjective.  But I think with me, intention plays a lot into it.  The media I classify as dumb aren’t necessarily trying to be dumb, but they aren’t trying to be super complex or deep.  They’ve set a low bar for certain aspects of their stories, themes, or atmosphere, and they hit that.  Things I think of as stupid tend to feel like they’re aiming way higher than they’re hitting.  Like they’re trying to tell some great complex story, but they really don’t have the chops for it, or they’ve established a certain logic to the plot but don’t end up following its internal rules, or they really didn’t think things through as much as they acted like they do.  But it’s mostly a feel thing, in between there.  

The big thing about dumb media are that they seem to hit on a subconscious level, where you can get a visceral, instinctual enjoyment of the content at the expense of the higher thoughts or deeper meanings there.  It works best when there’s some primary focus to the content that taps into the base emotions; often times pulse-pounding action, but it works just as well with horror, sexuality and plenty of other things that bypass the active conscious to connect directly one of those unthinkingly satisfying feelings.  And as a result, this sense works exactly because its dumb, if they demanded more thought to it, they’d change the nature of the experience entirely.  Watching Godzilla’s giant monster fights destroy half of a city wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if you were getting a full-minded about it, rather, it’d be either tragic or terrifying, as you’re putting thoughts to all the lives lost or impacted by that devastation.  Similarly, there’s a lot of video games that work because they tap into this for their action.  Bayonetta would be horrifying, slaying angels by the hundreds as you summon torture devices out of nowhere and unleash gruesome acts on all of them, if it were higher minded, and that’d make it a lot harder to enjoy its well-developed action gameplay.

And frankly, there’s an element of relaxation to dumb things as well. I don’t know about you, but I spend all the freaking time thinking. My work requires a lot of mental labor, then I come home and friends and family are constantly demanding my thoughts and my attention, and even in my off time, most of my day-to-day pursuits require a fair bit of intellectual involvement. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy it, thinking is an awesome thing in all. Especially when you’re as genius as I am. And I am an ironman, but even so, I can’t be on all the time. It’s really valuable, sometimes, to get a quiet moment, get into something that just turns the brain off and bypasses the suspension of disbelief for a while, and connects without requiring any more of that Mind Work from me. It’s refreshing, leaves me more prepared to do all those things that do require more thought.

Even otherwise serious works tap into this phenomenon, too.  The comic relief characters to provide those moments of levity, those jokes and one liners in the middle of firefights, the humor that would be ill-placed in real life but just seem to work in the context of the story?  That all counts under this, too.  It takes the mind away from an intellectual exploration of what’s going on and down into an instinctual sense of safety and levity.  It distracts your mind, at least for a moment, and draws it from just processing into outright feeling.   And, doing so, they manage the impact of their more cerebral moments, keep them from seeming too serious, too dangerous, etc.

So, let’s hear it for the dumb things.  The things that bypass the conscious thought to deliver a feeling straight to the emotional level.  And so doing, hit us in our hearts without bypassing our heads.

The Free Games Faceoff

The Epic vs. Apple trial came and went back in May.  We won’t have a decision for some time yet, and if you want the legal analysis of it, there’s plenty of better educated (maybe) places you can go elsewhere for it.  But, in between all the grown professionals degenerating to high school level drama, a whole bunch of private information was revealed, as is common for these trials.  One of those bits was that Epic Games had spent $11 million dollars in its first nine months on the free game giveaways they do every week.  Which is a lot of money.  As you may have guessed.

PCGamer put out an article around the time that was revealed raising the question of how many of those games have their staff, you know, actually played?  And the answers were, univerally, few to none.  And had me thinking as well.  I’ve been picking up on Epic’s Free Games pretty religiously.  I have this thing, where if you offer me a free game, I’m probably going to take it.  So right now, I’ve got a library with Epic Games Store of 160-something games.  None of which I’ve spent a dime for.  How many of those have I actually played?  Exactly 10.  

Now, to be fair, some of the games in my EGS library are backups of games I own in other formats or storefronts, which I redeemed because consoles might break down or discs scratch, and I don’t quite trust a service like say, Amazon to keep their games launcher active in perpetuity.  So those shouldn’t really count.  And given how common it is for players, PC players especially, to have massive backlogs, to the point of being a joke these days, many of us have already got a glut of choice, and although we might be interested in the games we’re picking up, if it’s not one we’ve chosen ourselves, it’s not likely to be at the top of the to-play list.  And frankly, you get a lot of free games through Epic Games Store.  1-2 a week.  If you habitually add them to your library whenever they’re available, as I do, it’d be very difficult to keep on top of all of them unless you were focusing all your play time on the Epic Games Store exclusives.  

But, all of that also applies to Amazon’s Twitch Prime/Prime Gaming service.  5 free games a month, at least, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription.  I’ve built up a massive library through them without spending a dime.  And yet, although I’ve still have more unplayed than not, I’ve played around 20% of my Twitch Prime library, well more than the 6% of the EGS.  And that has me wondering, why is that? Epic’s giveaways are generally of higher-profile games, giving out a lot or really notable, if mildly aged, AAA productions and some notable darlings as opposed to the mostly unknown indies you get through Amazon. You’d think I’d be going for the more known quantities. But I don’t.  And I know why.  Because I’m a genius.  

I like starting up new games.  Getting into something anew, learning brand new systems, and going through the generally more highly polished opening stages of the game is good times.  And it can be extra fun trying out a completely unknown game.  So sometimes, I just get in the mood to pull something I’d never heard of from my library and give it a try.  Usually kind of a whim of the moment thing.  The thing about digital games though, as well as current gen gaming in general, is that it requires a bit of lead time.  Games have to download and/or install. How much time specifically depends on the game.  Could be mere minutes, or it could be, on my slow rural internet, an all day affair.  Epic Games Store is definitely a much more robust launcher than the Twitch Desktop App I use for my Prime Gaming, but one really basic feature that Twitch has and Epic doesn’t is that it’ll let you know how big the darn game is before you start installing it.  How much downtime you’ll need in advance.  And for my whim-based “I’m gonna wanna try something new in like 15 minutes” tastes in those moments, being able to see what games I can actually get ready in that time is invaluable.  

The Epic Games Store launcher has had, in my experience, some reliability problems as well.  There was one notable time where the whole thing hardcore crashed on me, and required a reinstall to work again, in the process severing its connection to every single game I installed through it and requiring a lot of manually sorting through program files to get my hard drive space back from those then-inaccessable games.  And even without that, the Epic Games Store app takes a long time to load, even when I’ve got a shortcut to the game I want to play.  It’s got a lot of other features that Twitch Prime does not, like the super valuable ability to pause a download, but overall, it’s not an easy one to work with.

The Epic Games Store overall has been an experience that Epic is obviously putting their big fat Fortnite profits towards bringing people to and getting initial customers from, but not so much into making an easy or pleasant thing to use.  I’ll keep going for it as long as it continues to give me free games, such as it is, but I imagine usage rates are probably still going to be low until the storefront gets a bit easier to use.  Until then, the Twitch Desktop App may be a bit clunky and featureless, and obviously not especially meant as a game delivery service, but it gets me what I need in a more convenient manner.  And my games used seems to reflect that.

Project G-The Return of Godzilla (1984)

More Memorable Title: The Godzilla of the Cold War

We’re back with this, the one where Godzilla’s back!  And back with a reboot and a whole new continuity at that!  All that stuff we’ve been talking about in the series thus far?  All that story, history, origins, everything there?  We’re done with all that.  With the exception of the first film, the OG 1954 Godzilla, everything else is all out the window.  We’re starting fresh, here.  With this film, we officially enter Godzilla’s Heisei era.  

So, the last film of Godzilla’s Showa era hit in 1975.  Toho didn’t intend to end the series there, and in fact tried to get some more productions going a couple of times, but for whatever reason, none of them got off the ground.  In 1979, longtime series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka took charge of bringing Godzilla back to screens for the series’ 25th anniversary, and, inspired by the then-recent Three Mile Island incident and the then-modern adult oriented sci-fi/horror films of the time, wanted to return the series to its adult-oriented, anti-nuclear roots.  He still wasn’t able to get anything going for a while, until finally, in the mid-1980s, pieces started to come into place.  He combined elements from a bunch of cancelled Godzilla projects, made it modern to the cold war politics of the time, and started gathering a team around it.  Longtime director Ishiro Honda wasn’t up for participating, tied up with his work with Akira Kurosawa and also feeling the series shouldn’t be continued after the death of Godzilla’s special effects producer Eiji Tsuburaya, so Koji Hashimoto, who served as assistant director on a number of Showa Era projects, got called up to take the seat. Teruyoshi Nakano, who had led the special effects under Tsuburaya’s guidance when the latter’s health prevented him from working fully, took the lead once more on that front.  Series newcomer Reijiro Koroku handled music composition, making a score that’s quite different from Akira Ikufube’s previous work but honestly very solid for the film.  And finally, finally, they managed to get things going and get a film out, kicking off Godzilla’s revival.  

The Return of Godzilla is, as I said, considered the first film of Godzilla’s Heisei era.  But it was actually made in Japan’s Showa era, as the shift to the real Heisei wouldn’t happen for a few more years.  So, that explains perfectly why a lot of the things that would become emblematic of the Godzilla’s Heisei era; the recurring characters, the laser spamming, the 1-vs-1 monster fights, the prominence of psychic abilities, you don’t really get that showing up in this film just yet.  What you do get, that will carry over to later films until they start going the ‘noble demon’ route with Godzilla, is that you have a Big G here that is bigger and meaner than we’ve seen before.  Gone Is the ‘friend to all children’ Godzilla of films past.  This Godzilla is legitimately monstrous.  Much like the 1954 original, Godzilla here is coming to town to ruin lives and chew bubble gum.  And they don’t make bubble gum big enough for him.  

The Return of Godzilla is a film that reviewed rather poorly, but is very well regarded by fans.  Looking at things from my perspective, who has the better take on it?  Well, let’s dig in to find out.

The film opens with a fishing vessel navigating near an uninhabited island in a fierce thunderstorm.  The crew are trying frantically to force their way to shore to weather it.  One of the crewmembers, Sourface, so named because he shows little emotion other than mild irritation with everything occuring in the film, looks out at the island only to see something very large and monstrous silhouetted in the lightning.

The scene cuts there, and opens up the next morning.  The radio is calling out that in the storm last night, a number of ships, including the one we just saw, went missing.  We’re on a boat, a smaller one this time, a personal vessel.  It’s captain, someone whose name I actually remember this time.  Because he has the same name as that four-armed miniboss from Mortal Kombat.  And that guy from Yakuza that’s crazy awesome, emphasis on the crazy.  For that matter, he was there back in one of the worst films of the Showa era.  That’s right.  I promised he’d come back.  This guy transcends continuity.  We’re looking here at Goro Maki.  Yes, named just like the guy from Mortal Kombat and the guy from Yakuza, once again. So, obviously, Son of Godzilla didn’t happen here, and he’s played by a new actor this time, but the basics of this guy are the same.  He’s a reporter that searches down leads so hard he jumps into crazy dangerous situations.  He dresses exclusively in hideously ugly clothes.  And he is absolutely 100% couthless.  I don’t say that lightly.  You don’t insult a man’s couth.  You just don’t.  But it is impossible to describe him here without mentioning that.  

So anyways, Goro is sailing the high seas ripping opponents apart with his four arms apparently looking for those missing ships to get a scoop when he comes across one, coincidentally the one we just saw a few minutes ago.  He lashes the ships together, hops on board, and starts investigating.  It appears that nobody’s around.  There is some strange goo on the floor, though.  He gets into some cabin or bridge or ship term or something, and find someone sitting on a chair there.  He turns them around, and it looks like this guy got attacked by the girl from The Ring.  He’s all dessicated and mummified.  Then, Goro searches the ship some more, and finds some more dehydrated dead bodies.  He goes through their lockers, because, why not I guess?  Inside one of them, he finds Sourface, still alive, shell-shocked, clutching a hatchet.  Now, a normal person, would, you know try to help them, but we’re dealing with Goro Maki here.  Goro instead snaps a picture, and then goes through the guys pockets, finding a picture of Sourface with some girl and a student ID.  Then he gets attacked by… eeeeeeegh…. Shockirus.

Shockirus is a giant sea louse.  That’s about it.  But they gave it a name and made it part of the Godzilla monster canon, so they legitimatized it.  I don’t know if you know this about me, but I haaaate giant bugs.  Nearly every time.  So Shockirus can go eat a dick.  And he tries to, leaping onto Goro Maki and maneuvering to start sucking him dry.  Goro grabs a weapon, but Shockirus has a hard shell, and Goro’s unable to pierce it.  Goro starts preparing for the lame death you know is coming for him eventually, but then Sourface manages to hack into it and kill it from behind.

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