Amoeblog

Video Games: The Movie opens at SF's Roxie Theater on 7/18

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 13, 2014 07:44pm | Post a Comment

Feeling nostalgic for the faux wood paneling on your old Atari 2600? Or did you come of age playing Video Games The MovieMortal Kombat on your Sega Genesis and losing your Nintendo Gameboy at school? If you're reading this on the ol' interwebs, chances are your life was touched (if not molded) by the history of video games...and it's time to celebrate that history. Video Games: The Movie hits the Bay Area, opening at the Roxie on July 18th with screenings nightly at 8pm & 10pm and Saturdays & Sundays at 2:30pm & 4:30pm.

This epic feature length documentary from executive producer Zach Braff chronicles the meteoric rise of video games from nerd niche to multi-billion dollar industry. Featuring in-depth interviews with the godfathers who started it all, the icons of game design, and the geek gurus who are leading us into the future, Video Games: The Movie is a celebration of gaming from Atari to Xbox, and an eye-opening look at what lies ahead. Featuring interviews with Zach Braff, Sean Astin, Chris Hardwick, Wil Wheaton, Nolan Bushnell, Hideo Kojima, Cliff Bleszinski, and Alison Haislip.
 

Happy demotion day, Pluto - Pluto and other Trans-Neptunian Dwarf Planets in animation, games and TV

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 24, 2011 01:00pm | Post a Comment


Pluto

Today is the fifth anniversary of the demotion of Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet." 

PLUTO



Pluto was first discovered in 1930. Part of the reason it was accepted as a planet was due to the fact that despite some behavior not fitting a proper planet it was assumed to be larger than Mercury unti l1978, when its moon, Charon, was discovered, revealing that the mass of Pluto was much smaller than had been thought... roughly a twentieth the mass of Mercury. Two more orbiting objects, Nix and Hydra, were discovered in 2005. S/2011 P 1 (aka P4) was discovered in 2011. 



Reaction to Pluto's re-designation was controversial, especially among young nerds who failed to see how going from the smallest planet in the solar system to largest known object in the Kuiper Belt could be viewed as a positive move. The New Mexico House of Representatives and Illinois State Senate passed ridiculous anti-scientific resolutions to continue recognizing Pluto as a planet.

PLUTONIC CARTOONS




Of the Trans-Neptunian Dwarf Objects, Pluto remains the most popular, if not the largest. In animation it's appeared in Cowboy Bebop, Futurama, Galaxy Express 999, Roughnecks -Starship Troopers Chronicles, Space Battleship Yamato, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and The Magic School Bus.

PLUTO IN VIDEO AND COMPUTER GAMES



In games, Pluto has been depicted in Battlezone 2, Descent, Epch Star, Gyruss, Lenny Loosejocks in Space, Mass Effect, Star Control II and Starsiege.

PLUTO ON TV





According to my strenuous research, Pluto has never made it to the big screen - perhaps the result of our collective subconscious's acceptance of its diminutive stature. A better and more natural fit has been TV, where it's appeared in the Doctor Who episode “The Sun Makers”, Earth - Final Conflict, Space Odyssey - Voyage To The Planets, the Space Patrol episode “The Fires of Mercury” and X-Bomber.




The remaining known Trans-Neptunian Dwarf Planets are Eris, Haumea, Makemake, Orcus, Quaoar, Sedna and Varuna. If it's any consolation to the cognitive dissonance-suffering "Pluto is a Planet" crowd, none of them have shown up in any of these forms of entertainment. Nonetheless, each is interesting if not crying out for an appearance in science-fiction narratives. Eris is bigger than Pluto and yet no one is pushing any state resolutions to recognize it as a planet. Haumea (fka Santa) seems to be and ellipsoid. Makemake is unique among known KBOs for its lack of a satellite. Orcus seems to have a large amount of water. Quaoar is named after a Tongva god. 

*****

Get These Guys to Make Movie Trailers: Dead Island

Posted by Charles Reece, February 17, 2011 10:50pm | Post a Comment

I didn't think I'd ever be praising anything to do with a video game, but the trailer for the upcoming Dead Island is structurally brilliant: Two parallel time lines, one moving forward, but set in the recent past, and the other beginning in the present, but moving in reverse. They meet towards the end, connecting the stories. I found it on Ain't It Cool News, to give credit where credit's due. Watch it in HD! Or you can watch the flimsier version here:

                            

Journey to the Beatles - The Moribund Course of Music-Related Video Games

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 9, 2010 01:00pm | Post a Comment
With the recent availability of the music by a scouse four piece known as The Beatles [sic] they could now become the biggest Liverpudlian musical export since The Top or maybe even The La's. This followed their release of 2009's video game The Beatles Rock Band. With a sound that was obviously indebted to The Everly Brothers, The Miracles and Buck Owens, no one ever accused the Fab Four of being innovators. Indeed, the concept of a band promoting their music with video games goes back 28 years to a now-forgotten five-piece called Journey, whose brand of radio-and-roller rink-ready pop/rock once brought favorable comparisons to the likes of Night Ranger, John Waite and Mr. Mister.



That first rock band video game was Journey Escape (1982). In it you have to help guide a faceless ginger (see above screen shot) through the night sky, past disembodied Italian heads and lilac-colored jelly beans with legs to the famous scarab ship that was, frankly, my favorite thing about the band. Occasionally, a character that looks like the Kool-Aid Man comes to your aid.
  

I haven't played the game's sequel, Journey (1983) but I was transfixed by the title screen as a kid. 


My stepbrother David had It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (1984) for the Coleco. Although the packaging makes it look like your band is some five man electric jam Three Dog Night brand of sweaty, endurance defying classic rock; in fact, whenever your band takes the stage, you produce a pleasing chiptunes melody. You also can call your band anything you like, up to a certain amount of letters, which is why my band was simply "Blowtorch" instead of "Blowtorch Balls," which was my favored, bizarre and alliterative insult at the time.

Make My Video (1992) allowed the player to play auteur and make videos for INXS and urban acts like Kriss Kross and Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch. Somehow, despite the promising set-up, it failed critically and commercially. Game Informer gave the Marky Mark version a 0 out of 10, the lowest score a game has ever received by the magazine. It has appeared on "several worst video game of all time" lists as well.
Total Distortion (1995), on the other hand, looks pretty kyewel.
The game パラッパラッパー (aka PaRappa the Rapper) (1996) was pretty massive. It's crazy how, post-Eric B & Rakim, east coast rap never surpassed this level. 
ビートマニア (aka Beatmania) (1997) pioneered the performative music video game was and the first in Konami's Benami music game line.. Although it never really caught on outside of Japan, it's pretty obvious that the folks behind Rock Band and Guitar Hero were aware of it.
ギターフリークス (aka GuitarFreaks) (1998) was another Benami music game that probably only didn't catch on outside of Japan because most of the music was J-Pop, something most non-Japanese aren't familiar with, and music composed specifically for the game.
ポップンミュージック(aka Pop’n Music) (1998) was yet another Benami game.
When Spice World (1998) came out, Benami-style games still hadn't crossed the ocean. The New York Times pithily remarked of Spice World, "The music is derivative and shallow. The game didn't have to be."
ドラムマニア (aka DrumMania) (1999) was again, for the most part, not marketed outside of the Japanese market, and amazingly Guitar Hero's John Devecka holds a patent for drum simulation games.
Not surprisingly, it was a team of Japanese developers (Shun Nakamura, Tomohiko Aita, Satoshi Okano and Hiroyuki Watanabe) who had the bright idea of targeting a Benami-style game to foreign markets with Samba de Amigo (1999).
Playstation launched their first sequel to Parappa the Rapper with ウンジャマ・ラミー (aka Um Jammer Lammy) (1999).

Although it wasn't an actual music video game, in 2000 an internet meme surfaced known as All Your Base Belong to Us. It was based on the Engrish translation of 1989's  ゼロウィング (aka Zero Wing).

In 2000, a Kansas City, Missouri computer programmer/DJ Jeffrey Ray Roberts of the gabba band The Laziest Men on Mars recorded "Invasion of the Gabber Robots," which remixed some of Zero Wing's music by Tatsuya Uemura with a voiceover phrase "All your base are belong to us." 
Frequency (2001) was developed by Harmonix, who originally pitched the concept to Microsoft but were told by the then-vice-president of game publishing, Ed Fries, that no music-rhythm game would succeed without a custom hardware controller. As a result, Harmonix went on to develop the well-known Guitar Hero with its custom guitar-shaped controller.

太鼓の達人 (aka Taiko no Tatsujin) (2001) was Namco's entry into the music game arena. Last time I checked, they still had one of these at the Little Tokyo Arcade.
American Idol (2002) was a poorly reviewed game based on an unwatchable show. X-play gave it a 1 out of 5, complaining about the gameplay consisting of pressing buttons in time and not on the player's actual singing.
ギタルマン ( aka Gitaroo Man ) (2002) was released in North America in limited quantities despite a mostly positive reception.
ブラボーミュージック (aka  Mad Maestro!) (2002) was Desert Productions' Romantic music-oriented entry into music games. 
Mambo a Go Go (2002) was going to be released in the US, but never was...
ドンキーコンガ (aka Donkey Konga ) (2003) was Mario's least-favorite simian's similar, conga-playing game for GameCube.
SingStar (2003) came with a special microphone and requires players to sing along with the game to score points, the first such video game to do so. You don't get any extra points for disrobing to James Blunt, however.



If you've learned anything from this blog entry, it's hopefully that Guitar Hero (2005), despite blowing the doors wide open for music RPGs, was really nothing new. As with most of the successful games in its vein, it spawned numerous sequels and you can even play in Amoeba in one of them.

アイドルマスター (aka THE iDOLM@STER ) (2005) was another Japan-only release. Come on, Japan! Didn't you get the memo? People love your weird culture! Why do you think Matthew C. Perry forced you to open your ports in 1854?!
Toy’s March (2005) was developed for kids... not adults. Come on, dude! Little man (below) is drumming circles around you!


***************


Rock Band (2007), just by standing on the shoulders of those standing on the shoulders of giants, helped the franchise steal the thunder from Guitar Hero. The same company, Harmonix, that developed GH was behind Rock Band.

Game on!

Continue reading...

Mars - The Red Planet in Games, Movies and Television

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 31, 2010 11:00am | Post a Comment
A lot of people come up to me and say, "Love the blog, especially the ones about moons, planets and dwarf planets in film, music, video games, &c... so why haven't you done one on Mars?"

Actually, no one said that and I just never did one until now because I figured it would be too much work. To my surprise, it actually turned out to be pretty manageable, so here you are, on the two year anniversary of the discovery of water on Mars.

The reason writing an entry about Mars in films, TV, &c proved to be rather easy is because although Martians show up all over the place in films (mainly as invaders of Earth) we rarely ever see the planet or culture of Mars itself depicted. This post, then, is only about depictions of life on Mars and not every depiction of Martians.


Marriage of Venus and Mars

O MIGHTY MARS!
Mars is named after the Roman god of war. He was the sun of Juno and Jupiter. He started out as a god of fertility, vegetation, cattle, fields, boundaries and farmers. Over time, he became the most prominent of the martial gods. As the father of Rome's founder, Romulus, he is the ancestor of all Romans.


BACKWARDS SIGNIFIER OF FIRE AND FLOW

Easily visible to the naked eye and recognizable for its reddish color, the planet named after the Roman god was an object of study and speculation for ancient Babylonians, Chinese, Dogon, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, and Mayan astronomers. To the Egyptians, the planet was Horus the Red, the backward traveler. To the Dogon, it was Yapunu toll, the planet of menstruation. To the Chinese, it was ruled by fire.


MARS OBSERVED

Mars was first observed with a telescope by Galileo Galilei in 1610. As telescopes improved, so did our view, revealing geographic features and storms, igniting the imagination of writers. In 1877, American astronomer Asaph Hall III first observed Mars's two satellites and named them Phobos and Deimos. Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli believed he could see seas, channels and continents. The Italian term for channels, "canali," was misunderstood to mean canals and American astronomer Percival Lawrence Lowell popularized the notion that they were the work of intelligent life.


LIFE ON MARS?

The perception of massive irrigation systems led to the notion of Martians as a dying race and inspired early Science-Fiction writers. In 1880, author Percy Greg wrote Across the Zodiac, in which his hero travels to Mars, where the Martians refuse to believe he is from Earth. H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, published in 1898, depicted a Martian invasion of our resource rich world. By the turn of the century, efforts were made to communicate with Martians. In July 1965, Mariner 4 arrived at Mars and pretty much put an end to speculation about life on Mars. After that, most science fiction about Mars dealt either with ancient Martian civilizations, or the future taming of Mars by settling and often terra-forming it.

MARS IN FILM
Films set (at least partly) on Mars include:





    

  

  

   

     


MARS IN TV


Martian depictions on TV include the 1962 series Space Patrol, the Doctor Who episode "The Ice Warriors," the Twilight Zone episode "People are Alike All Over," Space - Above and Beyond, Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets, the mini-series Race to Mars, and the Outer Limits episode "The Invisible Enemy."

MARS IN ANIMATION


In animation, Mars has been depicted in Armitage III, Cowboy Bebop, Avenger, Mars Daybreak, Tom and Jerry Blast Off to Mars, Big Wars and Genesis Climber Mospeada.

MARS IN COMPUTER AND VIDEO GAMES

Mars has also been the setting in video and computer games including Red Faction, Zone of the Enders, Commander Keen, X-COM - UFO Defense, Red Faction, Elite 2, Doom 3, Airforce Delta Strike, Descent, Martian Gothic Unification, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Armor Core 2, Terra Driver, Darius II, Mars Matrix and DoDonPachi.

MARS'S MOONS IN POP CULTURE

 

Mars's moons have shown up less often in fiction. On April Fools Day 1959, amateur astronomer Walter Scott Houston perpetrated a celebrated hoax in the Great Plains Observer, claiming that "Dr. Arthur Hayall of the University of the Sierras reports that the moons of Mars are actually artificial satellites." Both the doctor and school were made up. Nonetheless, my perusal of Youtube has shown that some people didn't get the joke and now perpetuate one of the dumbest of all the dumb conspiracy theories -- this one involving a NASA cover-up. Anyway, the moons don't show up too often.

Deimos appears in the games Doom and Marathon and the animes Zone of the Enders and Astro Boy (2003).

Phobos has appeared in the games Doom, Armored Core 2, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2004, Leather Goddesses of Phobos and RTX Red Rock.



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