Monday, August 11, 2014

Nun Attack x3 (@NunAttack)

Being a long time fan of the Macho Women with Guns games, in their original form at least, every now and then I look for things that fit that genre. Going along nicely with the Renegade Nuns on Wheels entry are three games from Frima Studios; Nun Attack, Nun Attack Run & Gun, and Nun Attack Origins: Yuki's Silent Quest. Each game is different, but with a common thread.

First, Nun Attack, pits four of the characters against a fallen evil nun. Each nun has a different special power and strategy.
  • Eva, the leader, can place ghostly decoys of herself on the battlefield.
  • Rosy, the sniper, can become invisible.
  • Olga, the tank, has intimidation powers.
  • Mandy, the healer, has, well, healing powers.
The game is built on several quests on a large place map, then a smaller scale picture of the place with obstacles and battlefield markers, and finally the individual battlefields.

The Quest Map
Wide View
The Battlefield
Gameplay is pretty straight-forward, and there are descriptions of how to play in the early missions. In the wide view screen, touch and drag your team along the path. In the battlefield, touch and drag to move, or to attack. Scores are built on quality of mission completion, i.e. did everyone survive? Was all the evil destroyed? Collect gold along the way to upgrade your nuns' weaponry. This game was 99¢ at iTunes when I purchased it.

Next, Nun Attack Run & Gun is a side-scrolling endless running game. This one has the four characters from Nun Attack (Rosy is your first character, others must be purchased), and includes new characters Yuki (a ninja) and Simone (armed with a bazooka). Characters are bought with coins or gems earned during gameplay or purchased.

Like Temple Run, there are numerous power-ups like the coin magnet, dash and invulnerability. Unlike Temple Run, this is a one way course, though it has multiple levels (like lane changing).Obstacles may be jumped or slid under, and there are enemies that can be shot at or dodged. Also unlike Temple Run, different characters are actually different; not just different looking. Rosy is the slowest shooter, Olga's shotgun hits above and below. Eva and Yuki are likely the fastest shooters.

Controls on left: jump up/jump down. Controls on right: slide/shoot.
Coins earned in the game can be used to upgrade the nuns and the power-up durations. Once you have purchased all upgrades with coins, gems are necessary to further advance you need to use gems to continue upgrading with coins (there are three, I believe levels; bronze, silver, and gold). You do earn gems along the way by completing daily challenges and skill acheivments (always in groups of three). They also do events where you can earn more gems.

The gameplay is straightforward, and the stages becomes progressively more difficult. To see the challenges, touch the trophy in the bottom center above. This game was free on iTunes when I got it.

Next, an interesting game, Nun Attack Origins: Yuki's Silent Quest. Here, you play Yuki the ninja nun. The story is an attempt to save the orphans of your village. The gameplay is puzzle-like, in that you swipe away from Yuki to make her jump. To complete each stage, you must kill all the bad guys, but to score big you must save all the orphans on the stage, finish under deadline, and only use so many moves.

The top of the screen shows how many orphans are in the stage, how many swipes you have left, and how much time is left.
This one also has a stage, every five stages, that is like (I assume) Fruit Ninja (which I have not played). You have so much time to collect so much bread for the orphans, while avoiding the ocassional explosive device. The better you do on a stage, the more shurikens you collect, and completing a bread stage gives you more shurikens. These are used to rebuild the village. This game was $1.99 on iTunes when I purchased it.

I enjoy all three games, but Run & Gun is the favorite. The three have a nice consistency of look, and the characters carry well from game to game. Many of the basic opponents in Nun Attack appear as opponents in Run & Gun. The games on my iPad 2 run nicely, and seldom have issues. Ocassionally there is a crash when Game Center is connecting, but I believe that is a Game Center issue common to many games.

These are lots of fun, and worth checking out. Nun Attack and Nun Attack Run & Gun are rated 17+ on iTunes (I don't see why), but Yuki's Silent Quest is rated 9+ on iTunes. Check out the Frima Studios web site for more info.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Anaconda Meme

So, Nicki Minaj has a new album coming out, which has her on the cover in a thing. This rapidly spawned a meme.

So, I decided to take part. Many of the memes paste Nicki into famous art. Some are just childish. I tried to do some good and/or fun takes. The first two below she reposted on her Instragram (not linking back to me, I might add, but I digress).

The first one I did pastes Nicki into Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco. Here, instead of reaching out to Adam, he reaches out to Nicki's behind.

Nicki as the Statue of Liberty. Someone asked on Instragram why she is green? Because the freakin' Statue of Liberty is green, silly.

I am not sure who this artist is (I am too lazy to find out. Nicki takes the place of a cherub who's butt is turned toward the viewer.

This one I like because of the subtlety. Nicki is replacing Babi, the Egyptian baboon god of the dead and virility. Because of the Air Jordan shoes she wears in the picture, I decided to add the Air Jordan logo to the hieroglyphics.

Finally, I tried to recreate Picasso's "Blue Nude", a picture we have in our house. I am not a good painter, but like the overall effect. I closed her eyes and changed her hair to better match the original.

That's all for now. I may do more. I tag all my posts on Tumblr with "anaconda meme" here

Monday, July 21, 2014

Clerics Get No Love & Gay Nerd Representation

So, the other night friend of the blog, Darla Crane (not always safe for work, but a lovely person), posted a link to the book Ill Met in Tanivar: A Sinjin and Asamir Adventure, which is a D&D-like, gay erotic story. I mentioned that I thought gay nerds were under represented, which Darla retweeted. A few people favorited that retweet. This got me thinking.

In Clerics Get No Love, I have often considered making Wizard gay. Not for any reason other than to add some missing dimension. The main characters in the comic are mostly aspects of myself, and the side characters are either other aspects or based on players or gaming experiences. Wizard was often the least well defined. The reason I did not decide to make Wizard gay previously is that I am typically of the opinion that in a perfect world sexual preference and race would not be an issue. After listening to comedian Todd Glass on The Kevin Pollak Chat Show, and seeing the response to my tweet I began to feel this was an unrealistic stance, and decided to go ahead. Here are the two comics published last week.

(the floaty hearts were a suggestion by the lovely and talented Sparkle Jew Barbie)

My intention here is to not make a huge deal out of Wizard being gay, but to in my own small way add a sense of normalcy to a more common than many of us know situation. I have been in games with gay players, and there was some closeting going on. In one instance, I am sad to say, when one player's preference came to light, that was sort of the end of our playing relationship. I hope that I was not a party to the split. To be completely honest, I did not get along with him, but I do not think his being gay was a factor.

Anyway, I assume some of you are asking, "what the hell does this have to do with anything?" It has been a rambling, semi-pointless post. Hopefully it has given you something of interest. A large part was as a way for me to explin the comic, since Tumblr is not the best forum.

Will I do much more with Wizard being gay? Maybe, maybe not. Just remember that the people you play D&D with are your fellow party members. You don't have to be best friends, you don't have to hang out when you are not playing, so why should it matter if their orientation differs from yours?

Comments are, as always, more than welcome. That's the other reason for posting here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Odessa File (Ronald Neame, 1974)

Some time ago, I came up with (wholly by accident) what I call my "Super Depressing Nazi Triple Feature"; three films that deal with the ugliness of Nazi Germany, each addressing different parts. It includes:
  • The Damned, which deals with the rise of the party, infighting among factions, and how it takes over.
  • Cabaret, which deals with Germany throughout the war, but directly with how the party in full force effects the populace.
  • The Night Porter, shows the bizarre relationship between a Nazi in hiding and one of his former prisoners, long after the war.
So, I thought to myself, "there must be a similar group of films that see things from a partisan perspective?" and came up with two: Casablanca and Flame & Citron. Both are favorite films, and match nicely with The Damned and Cabaret from a timeline perspective. But what of the third film? Certainly there are good films about post-war Nazi hunters? This led me to The Odessa File.

Based on the book by Frederick Forsyth (Day of the Jackal), The Odessa File is the story of a German journalist who comes across the diary of a man who recently committed suicide. The diary tells the story of the man's life in a concentration camp, and of the commander of said camp. The journalist, Peter Miller (John Voight), makes it his business to find the commander (Eduard Roschmann, played by Maximilian Schell) who he discovers is still alive. He traces Roschmann to a group called "Odessa" which harbors/assists former SS members from the law.

The movie has its ups and downs. I assume the book covers a lot, but no, I don't care to read it. Miller is somehow simultaneously stupid and skilled, the assumption is that he learns from his mistakes can be drawn. The Odessa members do a great job of twarting Miller, and frankly it is nice to not see a bungling group of thugs. There is a lot of conspiracy thought in the story, alluding that the German power structure is populated with former SS members, and that Odessa was behind a chemical warfare plot to defeat Israel, and even (perhaps) the Kennedy assassination. It gets a little heavy handed at times. The normally great John Voight really slogs through this one in an almost amateur fashion. Maybe it is the German accent or behaviors he is affecting, but whatever the cause it doesn't live up to his normal craft. Lastly, the end is rather disappointing.

So, this one will not be rounding out my Partisan Triple Feature, despite the premise being exactly what I want. I don't want to discourage you from seeing it. It is not all bad, and certainly held my interest, but when compared to two of my favorite films it does not hold up.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Star Trek Continues (Mignogna, 2013)

If you are like me, Star Trek (TOS) is Star Trek. Sure, I like Enterprise, and oddly Voyager is where I cut my teeth; I tolerate The Next Generation... I won't bring up Deep Space 9, as I know many of you love it (I call it "Space Mall"). The rebooted Star Trek in films have given me a lot of joy and increased my appreciation for Doctor McCoy and Mister Scott, but there is something missing...

The came Star Trek Continues.

I wish I had heard of this earlier. Star Trek Continues is a fan made, fan funded continuation of the original series. It is produced, directed, written and edited by voice actor Vic Mignogna (Full Metal Alchemist). Mignogna also stars as Captain James T. Kirk. The rest of the cast plays familiar characters, notably with Grant Imahara (Myth Busters) as Sulu, Christopher Doohan (son of James Doohan) as Scotty, and voice actor Todd Haberkorn (Bleach) as Spock. A new character, Dr. Elise McKennah, played by Michelle Specht, is the first Star Fleet councilor. They also introduce the holodeck, bridging the TOS and TNG timelines. There are currently three episodes, which are freely available on YouTube.

I will admit, I had mixed feelings about the first episode. Bones is my favorite character, and I feared he was being replaced by McKennah in the classic TOS triad. Episode one, "Pilgrim of Eternity", is a follow up to "Who Mourns for Adonais", which was always my least favorite episode of the original series, however they did get original Apollo actor Michael Forest to reprise his role. Enough of the bad, though. This show looks and feels so much like the original, it is impossible for me to dislike. It even has the familiar commercial break transitions those of us used to seeing TOS these days know, and it helps maintain the classic story format of teaser/acts/epilogue. Once you get over the unavoidable fact that you are not watching the original cast, it is easy to slip into it like it is the original.

Episode two, "Lolani", is superior. It is in many ways a reimagining of "Space Seed", where the Enterprise encounters a distressed Orion Slave Girl, and ultimately her Slave Master, played by Lou Ferrigno (who does a fantastic job). If you are a Lou Ferrigno fan, you know that he has not always gotten the best vehicles to show off acting talent, but in "Lolani" he gets to recreate the role of Khan, charming the captain and crew for a while, then showing what a monster he really is behind closed doors. The episode is much darker than TOS could have been, hinting at (without showing explicitly) the assault Lolani endures from the men who purchase her. This clearly could not have been broadcast during the Shatner days, but like the original it tackles issues that are outside the normal for a action/adventure television show.

Episode three, "Fairest of Them All" is the follow up to fan favorite "Mirror Mirror", showing what happens after our Kirk and company return to our universe and the mirror versions return to theirs. It is the power struggle between Kirk and Spock, and includes Enterprise alum Kipleigh Brown ("The Forgotten") as our pilot, allowing Sulu to continue his part in the plotting. While "Lolani" is still my favorite episode, I think this one is where I stopped noticing that this was not the Shatner cast. Maybe the mirror universe costumes were part of that, but I also think the continuity of style and production really gels here.

If you love Star Trek, give STC a chance, because clearly they love Star Trek too. According to their Kickstarter, they have raised funds to produce five episodes, and I assume they will start a campaign to raise more in time. This is well worth your effort, and given an open mind I think you'll fall in love with it as well.

Your captain and crew.
Michelle Specht as Dr, McKennah
Fiona Vroom as Lolani and Lou Ferrigno as Zaminhon

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Things You Should Know About: Blood & Tacos (@bloodandtacos)

If you are like me (and because I am a narcissist I will assume you are) you enjoy a good adventure story, but what you enjoy more is a tongue-in-cheek version of such a story. Blood & Tacos is a series of collected stories that follow the classic Men's Adventure style of story by various writers who purport to be the discoverers of a piece of lost/forgotten fiction.

True to the genre, the stories can be offensive and archaic, and feel poorly written, but it is typically plain that the authors are aping the inspiration material. I'm sure Men's Adventure magazines had a Raymond Chandler or two... well, a Mickey Spillane or two, let's be honest... but they also had a ton of guys who could crank out lot of semi-cohesive stories that pushed all the right buttons; sex, violence, and intolerance being the "Konami Code" of writing, to stick with the button analogy. The stories I have read so far do a wonderful job of recreating that; sometimes specifically parodying their inspiration in an Airplane! fashion, sometimes more of an Our Man Flint type satire.

I am late to this, but there have been some wonderfully done podcast cum audio books of Blood & Tacos stories, which you can find on iTunes, or through the website. The first installment was a hilarious story, "Chingón: the World's Most Dangerous Mexican", which is happily not a Macheté parody, per se, more like I would imagine La Ley del Revolver is, or one of the many other Mexican comics I cannot read. (thanks to ¡Historietas Perversas! for opening that NSFW world to me)

Blood & Tacos #4 features a story by long time friend of the blog, Thomas Pluck. At 99¢ on Kindle, you can't go wrong. Check out the podcast. If you don't love "Chingón: the World's Most Dangerous Mexican" in free audio format, then I will owe you a beer at the bar of my choosing. It's win-win, right?

Friday, February 7, 2014

NGoN #155: Cynthia Leake

Part of the problem with this feature is that you often find people interesting enough to do a feature on, for one reason or another, and then discover you can find almost nothing out about them. That is the cross we bear when we take the fringe entertainment path.

Some of you may know our honoree, Cynthia Leake, from Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi's 1983 film Fire & Ice. "But Darius," I hear you say, "Fire & Ice was animated. So, she's a voice actress?" Actually, Teegra's voice work was done by Maggie Roswell, who voiced Maude Flanders on The Simpsons, beside other voice work. Fire & Ice was a rotoscope animated film. A much maligned (wrongfully, in my book) technique that involves filming/photographing live action and animating from those images. Cynthia Leake portrays "Princess Teegra" as the animators' template. Certainly there was some embellishment on the animators' part, but to be fair it is hard to stack up to a Frazetta image.

Ms Leake also did quite a bit of television, including an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dynasty, Dallas, CHiPs, and others. About the only thing I could find from any show was from the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode, "Space Rockers". See her IMDb entry here.

Sadly, that is about all I've got. Enjoy a few images.

Cynthia Leake, Ralph Bakshi and Randy Norton, behind the scenes of Fire & Ice

And for reference, Princess Teegra, animated

Cynthia Leake and Jeff Harlan in "Space Rockers" from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century