Strange Things Are Afoot

It’s been a long time since my last blog update.

In all honesty, I’ve been in a slump work and life wise, making it difficult to do everyday things. Things that I should be doing, like studying, blogging and keeping up with people around me – are not being done. I’m sure that I’ll be out of this forsaken slump soon, but for now, I guess I just have to keep moving on the best I can.

I’ll be taking it more easily on the blog for now though. Not only because of my slump, but also because I think that I could be able to generate more traffic into my blog if I limit what I post about. For starters, Music and Life posts will be rarer while Movie and Video Game posts will be more frequent. I’m not too sure how frequent those will be, nor do I know what days those will be coming out, but I will attempt to have a few posts a week.

Even though I’ll be focusing on those two types of media posts more often, I do want to keep the intentions I had when I first started: To write about me. And not just my life, but the things that interest me in a pseudo-personal way. I’ll write posts about my personal experiences when I have content, not for the sake of writing. Also, I’m planning on changing the formats of my review posts, so be sure to check those out in the following days.

In any case, I feel as though the Film and Video Game posts are my more viewed and thought out posts, and so I feel more comfortable writing about them. So with all that said, please bear with me and as always,

Stay Tuned!

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Watching: Freaky Friday (2003)

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Much of the 2000s flew right by me, and upon finally watching Walt Disney’s Freaky Friday I never really understood exactly how much I ignorantly passed by. A barrage of teenage comedy films. Questionable fashion fads. Normal Lindsay Lohan. But while these things may have been a thing of the past and I now live in a completely different world, I thoroughly enjoyed this family comedy for what it was – a heartwarming, albeit whimsical, story about family ties.

I’ve always managed to scroll past this film when browsing the listings on what I should watch next. I’m a very big horror junkie, and so I never really payed any attention to a Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls, The Parent Trap) film until I noticed Jaime Lee Curtis (Halloween, A Fish Called Wanda) was also in it. Seeing as I absolutely loved the Halloween series, I gave it a chance. I was not disappointed.

Anna Coleman (Lindsay Lohan) and her mother Tess (Jaime Lee Curtis) couldn’t be anymore different – while Tess is an uptight mother trying to keep her family in line, Anna is a rebellious, rocking teen. Really, the only thing they seem to share is… arguing and fighting. On a visit to a Chinese restaurant they’re at it again, fighting, until an old Chinese woman (Lucille Soong) offers them fortune cookies. Unfortunately (heh), the next morning not all is at it should be, as both mother and daughter find they have switched bodies – and must learn to walk in each other shoes.

I’m not sure if I’m starting to enjoy comedies a lot more, but I had a great time watching Freaky Friday. Yes, while the premise is more common than it should be, and the strained mother/daughter relationship a tad cliché, the film is more than deserving of praise for the amazing Curtis/Lohan performance. They seem to work well off each other, and both did a great job in portraying the other’s character. Props definitely go out to JML though: my eyes were glued to the screen whenever she was on it. She was vibrant, exciting, and most importantly, genuinely funny. It amazed me when I found out she was put on the cast only four days before filming, which made me all the more impressed with her performance. Other than that, dialogue in the film was above average at best and average at worst, and the rest of the film pretty much plays out on that line. The supporting cast does well to compliment the unique personalities of the mains, and a very special mention goes out to Lucille Soong for making me burst out in laughter at the end scene.

I have to say, I quite enjoyed a taste of early 2000 Disney. Freaky Friday overall was a great film to pass my Sunday morning, and I have no regrets about watching it. Oh, except for the music video-esque performance by Lindsay at the end – yeah no, I cringe at those things, really, skip right past it and onto the scrolling credits. But other than that, I suggest you don’t do what I did – don’t hesitate! Enjoy this fun and heartwarming film that is sure to leave you laughing.

Bry Rating: 3.5/5
Recommended? Go for it!
Country of Origin: America
Language: English

Playing: Clock Tower (SNES) (PS)

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Considered by many to be one of the earliest games of the survival horror genre, Clock Tower (Later subtitled The First Fear) is a little known gem in the history of gaming. Originally released in Japan and later into the US, this retro hit is a surprisingly suspenseful and jump-worthy game that will have most on the edge of their seats.

It’s September, 1995 when four orphans are led to a mansion known as the “Clock Tower” due to it being its most prominent feature. Being led by a Ms. Mary, Jennifer, Anne, Laura and Lotte arrive at the foyer of the luxurious mansion and are eager to meet their adoptive father, Simon Barrows. Fear begin to set in as Mary soon disappears and Jennifer finds the other gone, leaving her to wander about the dark hallways of the mysterious Clock Tower.

With horror games like Dead SpaceSlender and Outlast, I was sure that a simple, pixel SNES game wouldn’t even come close to scaring me. I had heard about it before – being credited as one of the inspirations for future instalments of the genre. But even with that in mind, I carelessly decided to play it in the darkness of my room, deciding that it would be one of those games that you could simply breeze by. I was wrong.

I was surprised by how “survival” this point-and-click game was. I had played the original Resident Evil and Silent Hill games and considered that formula to be survival horror. Yet Clock Tower takes it to an unbelievably base level – with no weapons or offensive items, the best Jennifer can do is hold off the dreaded Scissorman for a few seconds before her life depletes, forcing the player to find hiding places to avoid the maniac. Interestingly enough, her health depletes from running, and if you’re being chased by the game’s slasher, you’re prone to tripping onto the floor, something which I found annoying in films but suspenseful in this video game. The controls are, as you would expect, very basic: Jennifer can only run left and right and interact with objects you click on. It is through this that she collects key items and progresses the story. The introduction of a “panic button” is also important, as it allows Jennifer to escape or complete tasks that would otherwise damage her. The game itself incorporates puzzle elements, which is actually quite difficult in some segments. It also features slightly different plot points in different game plays, often changing room or item locations. The most attractive feature of all in my opinion though, are the multiple endings that players can achieve. Those familiar with Corpse Party would enjoy this aspect, yet some ending criteria can be missed or obscured by gameplay alone, making it difficult to achieve all endings.

Clock Tower’s tense atmosphere is close to flawless, providing players with a sense of anxiety and insecurity about what they inspect and what rooms they enter. Most of the mansion is portrayed with dull colours, diverting from this in the few rooms where there are light switches. Certain events, which are shown to players in a cinematic still, are sudden and grotesque, catching players off guard. The music doesn’t help players in this regard – it only manages to heighten the suspense and tension already instilled in players.

As a whole, I was surprised by how well Clock Tower fared as a suspenseful survival horror. Not only did it completely change my initial opinion, but it also genuinely kept me frightened until I finally completed the game. It’s difficult enough to warrant multiple playthroughs, especially with multiple endings, but keep in mind that some interactions can become tiresome after awhile. if you’re looking for a good thrill, are a major retro-junkie or want to experience some real gaming history – turn off the lights and give Clock Tower a run for its money.

Bry Rating: 3.5/5
Recommended? Basic, but a great cult classic.
Country of Origin: Japan
Developer: Human Entertainment

Clock_Tower_Replacement

World Vision Global Leaders Convention 2014

Hey everyone! It’s been exactly a week since I last posted, and only because I had some things come up. And while, yes, I did slack off a bit throughout that week, I did manage to get a lot of work done in my everyday life. And apart from work, I got the opportunity to attend this gem of a convention.

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On Wednesday, the school had organised a few students to attend the convention and hear about the poverty and hunger that has befallen Rwanda these past years. To say that it was inspiring is an understatement – I learnt of personal struggles, pressing issues and harsh facts that are all very real in our world today. I suppose with so many of us leading the lives we go about living, we often forget about those in other countries that suffer. And boy, was I reminded.

The convention is held yearly across Australia to inspire and empower young people into leading their communities in the fight against global hunger. I, along with another 500 students, listened on and were amazed by the experiences of many people within Rwanda who are fighting to survive with the basic necessities most of us take for granted. We were introduced to a few people, such as the M.Cs Soreti & Hamish, local ambassador Jordan and Rwandan development facilitator Jean-Claude Rumenera, and all of them had a story to share. Stories of genocide, sadness and even heartache. But the emphasis wasn’t put on sadness, but on hope and forgiveness. With the focus on Rwanda, there can be no doubt that the Genocide of 94′ was of interest across the amphitheatre. But like the presenters kept reminding us – “The genocide is not what defines Rwanda as a nation or as a people”.

There was this sense of hope from each speaker on the day. You could tell it from their eyes and the way their voices pressed their message across the room – they genuinely believed hunger can be taken down. When you really think about it, it’s not facts, statistics and numbers that will end hunger, but the determination that people hold for serving justice where it needs to be. This determination was in the presenters on that day – and now I feel compelled to voice my own opinion and act.

“Hunger is not an issue of charity. It is an act of justice.”

#roadtochange

Playing: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3) (PSVITA)

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Unfairly compared to it’s Nintendo counterpart, Sony’s PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a platform fighter that manages to hold its own in the genre, despite Smash Bros.‘s immense popularity. Even so, while it can be considered it’s own game in it’s own right, many aspects of the game were less than stellar, which is a shame considering the positive points it has to offer.

All the playable characters have their own storyline and reasons for joining the tournament being hosted by a mysterious entity. The players soon find themselves in familiar and unfamiliar settings as their worlds are amalgamated into hybrids, creating areas that are lethal if they do not adapt.

I can understand why Nintendo-biased fans would attack PASBR – although they might be similar in their gameplay, idea and genre, this is wholly unjustified. The game provides a new take on the platform fighter, while retaining elements of the genre that are exciting and invite fans to play. This in itself gives it enough credibility to be considered it’s own game and not simply a Smash Bro. rip-off.

The game features 20 (not including DLC) unique characters to enjoy, each with their own skill sets, combos, stats, and finishers. This gives players a large sense of diversity, keeping the game from being too repetitive. To gain points, characters must fill their AP meter in order to gain finisher levels that can kill other characters. All characters have distinct Level 1, 2, and 3 finishers, the lowest of which being the easiest to reach and hardest to use while the latter of which is the hardest to reach, yet easiest to use. The playing field is set in platformer style and are dynamic, often changing at intervals and introducing hazards that can injure or affect a player in some way. Items in the game also range from Playstaion franchises, and can be used to either enhance player performance or damage enemies. It features the standard game modes that you would normally expect from a game like this – Arcade (which is one of the lowlights when compared to the overall game), Challenge, Versus and (most importantly) Online Multiplayer. I must say, while the overall gameplay is good, it would become boring very quickly if it weren’t for it’s Versus and Online Multiplayer mode.

The character models, backgrounds and fighting animations are really well done, and are in my opinion much better than any other platform fighter that has been made. The game is not entirely perfect though – it suffers in it’s poor menu execution (honestly, it seems very amateurish) and the story still-frames in Arcade mode. This is an important note to ANY game: If you include a storyline, do not oversimplify it. It needs to be engaging, and two still-frames just don’t cut it. Moving on, the music fares slightly better in it’s presentation. It can be said that Smash Bros. does this better due to it’s large variety of well known hits, and while PASBR does this to a lesser degree, players are only given a below average score that rely on sudden shifts, sound effects and voice overs to keep players engaged.

Overall, while it’s music and some visual aspects are subpar, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is an absolute delight to play against other people. It’s actually a shame that it didn’t receive more attention, as it costs fans from more DLC characters, but I suppose there may have been some reasons for that. If you enjoy platform fighters, or enjoy the cross-over aspect that is more commonly observed in Nintendo’s Smash Bro. franchise, be sure to check out PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for a newer and different experience.

Bry Rating: 3/5
Recommended? Don’t bother playing by yourself – go online!
Country of Origin: America
Developer: Superbot Entertainment; SCE Santa Monica Studios; Bluepoint Games (Vita)