Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Invincible Serbia

I'll be damned... indie/arthouse label Invincible Pictures has the US rights to A SERBIAN FILM.

Word is they're prepping an R-rated version for theatrical and cable broadcasts in February, but there will be an uncut DVD release after that. If true, I'm all for it, and can't wait to support it. Any film that can make me feel ill is worth money out of my own pocket.

Oh yeah, here's a trailer for A Serbian Film's forebearer, The Life and Death of a Porno Gang:

Looks... kind of cheap, to be honest.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Torture Porn Comes Full Circle

It's not often that I suggest people don't watch a film, ever, for any reason. Even if a movie is terrible, odds are there's some redeeming entertainment factor to be found it. It's even rarer that I recommend people not watch a film when it's fantastic... that just wouldn't make sense, would it?

What I can tell you is this: A SERBIAN FILM is the single most deplorable, disgusting, and offensive piece of filth I've ever laid eyes on. I honestly can't decide if that's a compliment or not. But I do know that you shouldn't even try to watch it.

Fuck The Guineapigs and forget Grotesque. Spit on your copy of Nekromantik and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre before you kick them to the curb. Pay no mind to those August Underground cunts and their abuse of the very word "cinema verite". Even undisputed masterpieces of offensive cinema like Nacho Cerda's Aftermath, Bo Arne Vibenius's Thriller: En Grym Film, Ruggero Deotato's Cannibal Holocaust, Tai Fei Mou's Men Behind the Sun, Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò: 120 Days of Sodom, and Karim Hussain's Subconscious Cruelty have been completely usurped as the very best in totally offensive cinema. These are all entertaining and impressive films in their own right, don't get me wrong, but what makes them so endearing and fascinating is that they were designed specifically to transgress the boundaries of sex and violence in the name of art and entertainment... but none of this matters anymore. It honestly doesn't. Because the rules have just been broken, and this time by a film that goes so far above and beyond the quality of its' fore-bearers that even the best of them look like cheap and poorly made smut in comparison.

There is one film I've intentionally neglected to compare this to, and that's Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, perhaps the very first film from a master director to weave legitimate substance into imagery of explicit human degradation, and to do it in the name of art, not cheap sensationalism. It's hard to look at A Clockwork Orange in this era of internet porn and terrorist snuff videos and feel that same feeling of revulsion and anger that audiences must have felt from that X-rated exploration circa 1971. Watching A Serbian Film is the closest thing I may ever get to understanding how audiences felt the first time they watched Malcolm McDowell jovially sing show tunes as he abused and raped his fellow man nearly 40 years ago, and with every border of good taste and sensibility that's been crossed, I don't honestly know how easy it'll be for any future director to ratchet the stakes up even higher. Literally the only thing missing in A Serbian Film would be if the actions on-screen weren't simulated, and had that been the case, the film would actually be the pornographic snuff film that it so convincingly pretends to be.

Director Srđan Spasojević and his co-writer Aleksandar Radivojević have done exactly what they set out to do, and that's create the single most vile film in existence. The writer has suggested that the film is an allegory for the abuse that Serbian citizens have suffered through these last two decades, but I don't know nearly enough about the Serbian/Bosnian conflicts and the abuse of decades' worth of the government's absolute power that entails to figure out if this is just him fishing for artistic legitimacy or not. That's not to say that even pointless trash can't be entertaining, but I swear if anyone ever said "The Passion of the Christ is a deep and important film" to my face I'd slap them. The subject matter of a work of art is meaningless; it's what you do with it that matters. Either way it's allegorical status irrelevant, as the film is written, acted, and shot with all the finesse of a respectable Hollywood feature. It's a "real" movie, and would have been a fascinating work even if it hadn't gone half as far as it does, which alone means it's outclassed most of the works that inspired it.

That's a big part of what makes this so much worse than any similarly themed film to have been made before it: If the offensive imagery and constantly horrifying story had been the work of amateurs who didn't know how to make a well-constructed piece of cinema it'd be easy to ignore this as an attention grabbing stunt with no justifiable substance. But that's not what we have here... it's am expertly crafted and properly aimed fragment grenade of everything evil in the world, and over 104 minutes it shreds your being to nothing, reveling in every taboo any society holds. Absolutely nothing is off-limits here, and every facet the film violates is literally driven right into our skulls with blunt force.

I'm calling it now, the so-called "Torture Porn" genre is officially over. That's not because the subgenre was ever socially irrelevant, but because there is absolutely nothing else it could ever do to offend audiences after this film - odds are more a slightly accessible American film will simply rip the same imagery off a few years down the line, and the rest of the world will agree with me on this. If the goal of the post-millennial wave of polished gross-out exploitation films is to continually one-up the competition, A Serbian Film has literally done it all, and left nowhere for this style of horror to go but down. A few years ago I had a conversation with a man who's very stock and trade is horror films predict that there were only a few taboos left in the genre, and this film managed to hit all three of them he listed... and it keeps reaching for more until the credits roll. This simply is the sickest shit I've ever seen, and for the first time in my life I don't want to show it to the people I know - because they don't deserve to feel as dirty and empty as I do right now. Without exception, I love the people I've forced to watch Philosophy of a Knife and Cannibal Ferox, and I put those films in front of them because I thought they would - for one reason or another - enjoy themselves in the process. The people that I entertain with disgusting films may never see this film, because I don't think I can provide it for them... suffering this atrocity of images and sound alone isn't easy, not for me at least, but offering it to others is like handing them a gun and telling them to shoot themselves in the part of their brain that knows what "right" and "wrong" are. I won't prevent anyone from pulling the trigger on themselves, but I don't know that I can be a part of it myself.

A Serbian Film has been cut by nearly 5 minutes, and even swapped out some footage in the United Kingdom, so avoid the British DVD and Blu-ray versions. If you're a sick enough fuck to even attempt to watch it, watching it censored is an utter waste of your time. Frustratingly, that seems to be the only legitimate video release, so god-awful looking screener rips are your only option outside of the festival circuit. It's also been banned in Spain - or at least parts thereof, and I don't know of any other countries that have picked up the rights yet. Honestly, I can't think of a single US distributor with the cajoles to release this, so maybe if I could divorce myself of how fucked in the bloody mouth this film is I could make a mint selling it...

As I said before, I don't think I can actually recommend that anyone ever watch this film. Some of you reading this already have, and some of you will regardless of what I have to say. I know curiosity is a powerful force... but I won't tell any of you that you should see it. It's vile. It's nasty. It's the first time a film has ever made me want to stop watching it... I mean, for fuck's sake, the third act starts with- no... no, I don't even want to say anything. The more I say, the more people will want to watch it, and that isn't really my goal in spilling my guts over how this wretched piece of grue has made me feel. If you aren't already interested, you shouldn't be. If horror films are a drug, this is a gallon of liquefied PCP being shot into your piss hole, and the guy doing it to you has told you that you will not live. This shit is unlike anything I have ever seen, and even puts the most famous of the erotic-grotesque works of Waita UZIGA to shame... though I will admit that his greatest work seems to have been a strong source of inspiration here.

Sure, I know it's only a movie. Actors behind cameras playing make-believe. But movies have power, a certain intangible quality that makes the audience care about those artificial scenarios, and it's because I care about these real people playing make-believe that I can't recommend this film to anyone... it destroys them in ways I've never seen a film even try before, and does it so completely that even the last 30 seconds of the film are, all by themselves, more horrible than virtually any other so-called horror film's entirety.

I think I need to cuddle up on the couch and watch something heartwarming to settle my nerves. Something like Martyrs, Antichrist, or maybe even Forced Entry. That's right, the porn flick about the shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who anally rapes women at gunpoint would be a breath of fresh air right now. Seriously, that would have the same calming effect on me that a kitten purring and licking my face would.

Perhaps I'll feel differently tomorrow. The film has been over for less than an hour, and I'm ranting about it while the scars are still fresh and oozing... I'm glad, too. Because the longer I wait, the more I might forget this unique feeling of being offended and violated by a piece of entertainment I myself wanted to see. This is a feeling I honestly can't remember, not one that was so sincere and concrete... alas, this is what I've been looking for, for at least a decade now. And now that I have it, now that I've broken that final seal that only "extreme" cinema could ever even chip away at, I feel myself unsure if I can ever look back at anything in the same way.

I'm now slightly curious how the similarly themed Serbian feature The Life and Death of a Porno Gang stacks up. It sounds like its' very much a predecessor to A Serbian Film, but with how little attention it seems to have recieved I can't imagine it's anywhere near as powerful.

What, you thought this experience would make me give it up? Go easy on the borderline snuff entertainment? Feh! I got into this mess because I'm something of a gonzo-horror aficionado, and don't plan to give up just because one movie finally managed to hit me in a place I didn't even think I had anymore...

...in my heart.

DON'T say I didn't warn you.

I think that I might just love A Serbian Film. But I love all of you even more. And that's exactly why none of you should ever see it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thankskilling

What with me having worked on a film co-starring the creepy fucker, it only seems relevant that the Kentai Blog would celebrate the Feast of a Thousand Turkeys by sharing this horrific monstrosity:

An Interview with Issei SAGAWA

For those who don't know, the short version is that in 1981, Sagawa was studying abroad, fell in love with a pretty Dutch girl, and then fucking killed her so he could eat her flesh. France decided he was too crazy to convict, so he was deported back where he came from... trouble was there were no concrete terms for his institutionalization, so after a decade and a half Sagawa convinced doctors he was no longer a danger, and checked himself out. Which, apparently, you can legally do in Japan.

The creepiest part isn't actually the fact that Sagawa is a free man, but the fact that he's become a minor celebrity for his crime! He is (or at least was) a regular commentator on trashy Japanese TV, played the villain in Sato's psychedelic and misanthropic sex-thriller THE BEDROOM, has written restaurant reviews for Spa magazine (it's okay - we all laugh when we read that the first time), and is now setting the record straight on what he did, how, and why... presumably because most of the rest of the media outlets has grown tired of him.

To be fair, the attention he gets isn't entirely his fault; just typing in the name "Charles Manson" on Amazon.com gives me over 500 books, videos, posters and albums either featuring or relating to the craziest mother fucker to ever convince hippies that murdering was even better than love and peace, so the fact that the media embraced Sagawa in Japan - a country in which he's done nothing illegal - shouldn't be that shocking. Creepy, sure, but not surprising anyway.

Of course, it's only human nature to be fascinated by death. People used to buy tickets to a hanging the way people now purchase them to go to a rock concert, and many of the most infamous killers are made popular in the cultural landscape not because they pulled a trigger, but because of the bizarre stories connected to them, and the unusual personalities that often accompany having a total lack of conscience or semblance of respect for human life. Ed Gein and Ted Bundy and even Sagawa-kun up there aren't fascinating because they killed a person; they're fascinating because they're goddamn fruit loops, and everything that comes out of their mouth is so bizarre it can't help but be memorable and begging to be studied.

Make no mistake: fascinating or not, this man is the sickest of sick fucks, and stands behind only a slight margin behind Tsutomu MIYAZAKI on the "What The Fuck Is Wrong With Japan?!"-O-Meter. If there really is anything resembling good and evil, this is the latter personified. And he makes money by telling people why he did it. He is a wicked blight as an individual, but society is no better in welcoming him not just as a specimen to be studied, but as a meme to be exploited for a quick buck.

Still, ask yourself... who would you rather have as a media superstar? Sagawa, or this asshole?

Personally, I'd rather give Dennis Rader his own talk show.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Inside My Melting Brain

Sorry for all being quiet on the Eastern Front. Restoration Project X requires a lot of attention right now, so it's not as if I'm trying to ignore you all. I care, honest I do... I'm just yanking my hair out by the roots, combing frame-by-frame to find scenes that have been sodomized by scratch repair filters and then find myself re-encoding the entire film because of a brief 1-frame bug.

It's enough to turn anyone into a violent hermit, trust me... and I haven't even gotten to the manual frame-by-frame dirt clean-up stage! Let's use a totally unrelated title to show you the kind of crap I'm going to be fixing...

 Well. You get the idea, anyway.

The next Kentai Films Blu-ray Disc is ready. Kick-ass, right? Pelvic-WHOO!

Sadly this one's kind of... problematic. The film is the fantastic 2008 French horror film  INSIDE/À l'intérieur which, like so many independent Eurotrash productions, was shot on HDCAM at 25fps. It's not that the film has been sped up like most theatrical features for PAL countries, the original film -is- 25 frames per second, and as such the Scandinavian(?) Blu-ray is, to quote the package, "1080p 25fps".

Now, technically, it's 1080i at 50hz with 2:2 pulldown. But the real-world difference between 1080i@50hz and 1080p@25hz is non-existant, and I'm actually kind of an asshole for even mentioning it. But you know, Blu-ray Video spec, High-Profile Level 4.1, blah blah short version:


I've patched the disc with English subtitles, but so fucking what? The disc is "PAL HD", and won't even play on most US Blu-ray players. Even if your US player does support it and doesn't just throw out an error message or a blank screen, odds are it won't actually convert the signal to 1080i@60hz, which is the only interlaced refresh rate American TVs can display! If you're awesome and have an Oppo which has a built-in frame rate converter, you're all set, but if you're a cheap bastard milking a PS3 (just like me) then you're kind of up a creek on this one.

If you already live in a country with PAL TV - anywhere in Europe, Australia, mainland China, random parts of South America... pretty much anywhere that wasn't America or Japan's technological bitch, you're all set. But that still leaves out my general target demographic of "everybody", so this one needs to go back to the drawing board for now.

INSIDE will be left out of the Kentai Films catalog until such a time as I can offer a version that'll play anywhere in the world. That will, invariably, mean that I re-encode the feature either at 24fps with pitched-down audio, or convert the 25fps "progressive video" to 30fps 1080i - or in other words, the dreaded PAL > NTSC conversion tactic we've seen on John Woo's The Killer. The former isn't quite ideal, but I'm liking it a fuck of a lot better than the other option.

Now, if I could just get my hands on a DTS-HD encoder...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rage Sale

Forget Black Friday, as Tecmo/Koei have made a substantial drop in the pricing for the second Hokuto Musou download content pack.

Kenshiro's outfit alone was $2.99 on the Playstation Network/240MS on Xbox Live, so I figured that would be the standard pricing. Turns out "DLC Pack 2" includes alternate outfits for Rei, Raoh and Mamiya, all for a reasonable $4.99/400MS. I guess since Kenshiro's original outfit was the pre-order bonus in Japan they decided to price it substantially higher and offer it on release date, as some way to replicate the excitement of paying upwards of over $80 in Japan... somehow, that seems almost fair.

No word on how much the additional 4 manga outfits, "Outlaw" playable character, or various Challenge Modes will cost. But in light of four outfits for eight bucks, I'm thinking it'll be less than the $40 or so I had anticipated for the whole bag of gore.

UPDATE: According to Emilio at Blog of the North Star, the "Outlaw" character was, as of this writing anyway, an exclusive pre-order bonus to Amazon.com customers! Those thieving bastards...

You also get an exclusive Challenge Mode, though if "Exclusives" found on games like Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Dead Rising, and Yakuza are any indication, they'll all be readily available for a fee within a couple months.

I'd rather have the ever-polite Martial Artist Killer Heart than a random piece of Fist Fodder, all things considered, but offering different exclusives like this always gets my panties in a bunch. It really gets me that I didn't even know about it until two weeks after the game came out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Five Star Blu-ray

Oh hells yeah.

It all works. The subtitles, the menus, everything. THE FIVE STAR STORIES is officially Kentai Films' first 100% successful English subtitled Blu-ray patch. With English menus and being a single-layer disc, this sucker should be ready as a sell-through version in the very near future.

What's next? We'll just have to wait and see, but I'm going to save that heinous Memories clusterfuck for last.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ken's International Rage: A Brief Review of HOKUTO MUSOU

Awfully quiet here on the Kentai Blog, huh?

Try as I may to be a focused and productive individual - an experimental project has just been translated, and I'm doing some lab tests on Five Star Stories right now - I'm still prone to flights of digital tomfoolery that have less to do with "Video" and more to do with "Games". And it so happens that my endless bromance with Fist of the North Star has entered its' most raw and throbbing stage in years with the North American release of FIST OF THE NORTH STAR: KEN'S RAGE, which I'll from here on out refer to by its' slightly more fitting Japanese title, 北斗無双/HOKUTO MUSOU.

...which, all things considered, probably should have been "North Star Dynasty Warriors" in English speaking territories. But, whatever.

The gorgeously rendered OP video.

Is HOKUTO MUSOU the best game ever? Probably not, no. That isn't directly an insult, just the law of averages, since the world of video games has grown so cut-throat and expansive that saying anything is "The best X ever" no longer means much. Is Call of Duty the best game ever? Not if you don't have a hard-on for military fetishism, and so far I only seem to get a boner when those squadrons involve martial arts monkeys, pantless all-girl SWAT teams, or big-ass robots. Is Dead Rising 2 the best game ever? That depends on your love of zombies being as strong as it is for duct-tape. Is Cooking Mama 2: Cooking With Friends the best game ever? Perhaps... but only because you can make Mama wear a chengxiam AND a Mr. Peanut monocle at the same time. Video games are their own universe, not their own genre, so that places Hokuto Musou somewhere in the "pummel everything that moves" category, which has largely been replaced by the first person shooter and grim natured stalk-and-kill titles. I suppose this is something of an antiquated genre, the Brawler game that saw its' heyday in arcades during the early 1990s, with the modern day tweaks that come from being a home game.

Is it the best Hokuto no Ken related game ever? Probably, yes. Even if PSX action game and Punch Mania put up quite a struggle, in their own unique ways. Not fixing what isn't broken, the game mechanics are familiar to anyone who's played more than 5 minutes of any Dynasty Warriors title; you (and maybe a friend) select your warrior, kill everything in sight with a series of combos and special attacks, level up your fighter at the end of each stage via XP, lather, rinse, repeat.  One of the most regular criticisms the game has endured is that its' repetitive, but I think we all could have guessed that going in. The soundtrack is a combination of modern metal and electronic instrumentals that have become synonymous with the Hokuto no Ken franchise since the New Savior Legend movies started in 2006, and much like the decaying backdrops are more than adequate, if not a masterpiece. (The boss rooms, however, tend to be real eye candy... a shame they're never expanded upon.) Graphics are variable, in a sense, with gorgeous renders during the most important cut scenes and brief asides of peasant villagers getting mowed over being a bit less than amazing. Much like the simplistic gameplay, the technical aspects of the game aren't busy setting any new standards, but they're never less than adequate either.

Completing each mode typically gives you either a new character or a new outfit, and there are - of course - manga faithful outfits, additional challenge modes, and even exclusive playable characters you can download for a nominal fee. That's one of those "modern day tweaks" I was talking about earlier.

Typical in-game footage.

A total of five "Legend" (Canon) stories and eight "Dream" (Original Content) scenarios are included on-disc. Each of the "Legend" chapters gets a ending cut scene, plus an opening for the first chapter, while the rest of the story proper it told via narration. Not a problem for Hardcore Hokutoheads like myself, but I can imagine those new to the franchise will be a bit perplexed at who the fuck these people are, why Hokuto and Nanto can't just get along, and all that post-apocalyptic jazz. All of the dialog in Legend mode is from the manga verbatim, so if you can forgive that all of the backstory is implicit it's a fairly faithful take on the Legend of the Centuries' End Savior.

Each character has been given a totally unique fighting style, unique to the point where I almost like Jagi now. It's just too goddamn fun using a combination of dirty wrestling moves, a pair of shotguns, and a mother humping rocket launcher in hand-to-hand combat. Everyone has a total of eight "Signature Moves" (which cost you having stored up enough damage for a token), and with the rich tradition of ultraviolence these are actually worth the time grinding in stage replays just to earn Mamiya tripping and then stabbing her opponent in the face, or Shin running an opponent through and draining their life force to replenish health. It may not be a fantastic "fighting game" in the Street Fighter sense, but using your special moves wisely helps make it a varied and challenging adventure game. You can also toss discarded missiles, run thugs over with a motorcycle, abuse spear launchers and generally just break everything in sight. With the number and scope of stages being limited, it's good that they're so interactive; as a fan I'm disappointed that Cassandra looks like a dilapidated shopping mall rather than a massive gothic castle,  but at least the programmers at Omega took the time to make it as claustrophobicly labyrinthine as they could.

The "Dream" mode is a strangely interesting concept, in that all 8 of the stories are intertwined but unique. Basically, the norms of the storyline come to a screeching halt in the crystal ball of a mysterious fortune teller, giving players an option to see a tale in which the Nanto Masters stood united against the Hokuto Brothers, pitting old friends against each other and forcing sworn enemies to form a temporary alliance. With a few exceptions these OC storylines mostly make sense in the established manga continuity, and the fact that each one changes so that the selected player is victorious keep the twists coming to the very end. I'm familiar enough with the canon material that seeing something new (and NOT totally retarded... fucking Raoh Gaiden...) is pretty fun, but again, I'm sure how amusing this all is ties in very closely with how familiar you are with the characters to begin with. I'll also note that the Dream mode cut scenes are notably cheesier looking than those in Legend mode. Not a big deal, of course, but it's hard not to notice when Mamiya's render is slightly cross-eyed, and background textures start to wig out for no apparent reason.

The gang's all here.

The familiar faces of 199X has a brand new cast, and for once I have no major complaints. Of special note is that the TV series' coked out narrator, CHIBA Shigeru, has been upgraded to none other than WAKAMOTO mother fucking Norio. I'm very satisfied with KANNA Nobutoshi's Souther, which I didn't expect, though I'm a bit less enthused by TACHIKI Fumihiko's Raoh than I wish I was. (It isn't *bad*, but fuck, it's no UTSUMI Kenji, either.) KOYASU Takehito hits Rei right out of the park, which makes sense; his husky pretty-boy tenor was a grave miscast as the gravelly and aged version of Kenshiro pretented in the Shin Hokuto no Ken OVAs, but as the suave and cunning Rei he's given a chance to do what he does best. I haven't checked the English version of the game, nor am I likely to unless asked. With all due respect to Mr. Crispin Freeman, I honestly don't care how good his performance is.

One gripe I need to get off my chest is in the localization of the character namess. Many of the names are presented in familiar fashions; Kenshiro, Rei, Mamiya, Raoh, Heart, Jagi, Bat and Ken-Oh all check out. "Uighur" is a pleasantly accurate romanization, and "Rin" is a surprise, but not a problem. "Juda" is a bit of an odd choice; either Yuda or Judas would have been fine, but to meet it half way only makes the game harder to keep track of once "Juza" enters the same battlefield. The ones that make me grind my teeth and wince in a certain state of shock are "Shew" and "Thouzer". The former is phonetically accurate, but just looks ugly to all of my native Anglicized sensibilities. But THOUZER? What the hell is that?! Yes, I know that's the name used on the Japanese arcade game, but that still isn't a good enough excuse.

Another strike against the US release is the fact that the DLC is fucking expensive. In Japan, manga-accurate outfits are 100 yen ($1.25), which seems like a fair price. In the US, "Content Pack 1" (Kenshiro's blue jacket) is $3! With 8 character outfits and one additional player (a random outlaw priced higher than an outfit) that means I'll cough up at least $30-36 in DLC, and that's NOT including new challenge modes! (Which, having tried a few, are actually quite fun.) Heart and a pair of challenge stages came free with the Gamestop preorder before they'll be sold to the general public, so thank fuck for that. Having actually played the game, the only costume that I *must* immediately replace is Shin, who looks like an incredibly pimping Mardi Gras break dancer instead of the refined ruler of a post-apocalyptic dystopia.

...I got nothin'.

Also, Mamiya gets pretty much naked when you throw money at her outfit, so that's a must have by default. I'm now sad that all of the cutscenes are rendered videos rather than real-time high quality game footage, since watching Mamiya act like a brutal vigilante ice queen while her ass is hanging out would make the Legend mode way more amusing.

Another bone I have to pick is the fact that the 2-player "Dream" mode bogs the PS3 hardware down pretty hard. The one-player mode is consistently smooth with narry a major glitch or any slowdown, but when the game processes two separate battles at once it gets a little twitchy and framerates begin to lag. If you're a lone wolf kind of player this really shouldn't be an issue, but if you have a wife - or one of those totally hetero friend who spends all his time with you, cooks you meals and makes sure you're dressed properly for a job interview - this can get just a bit disappointing. As has been mentioned ad-nauseum by the press at large, the game is no Final Fantasy or Metal Gear Solid to start with, so mucking up the gameplay during intense group-brawls takes the game from slightly above average to slightly below whenever it hits.

Still, the fact that 2 player mode is slightly less awesome than 1 player mode is the biggest complaint I have, so I'm pretty goddamn satisfied. $60 is probably too much for a single video game in general, but for my first ever game I've paid full release-day price for in *years*, I don't actually feel cheated afterward. The brutal, simple, and even grinding nature makes it more of a unique treat for fans of MANine and the Dynasty Warriors franchise than the sort of thing most casual players will jump right in and never put down, but I'd still recommend it even to those curious. It's loud, bloody and quite a bit of fun. Just don't expect the gameplay to change up too much over time.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

There's Five Sides to Every Story

THE FIVE STAR STORIES should - by the time most of you read this, anyway - be patched with English subtitles. I just need to tweak the timings from the ADV translation a little bit to fit the new master, though I'm praying that spellings like "Mortar Headd" and "Clotho" are accurate, at least technically speaking. Creator Mamoru NAGANO seems to have pulled vocabulary from the world at large and twisted it to suit the tenants of a science fiction mecha epic, so if anything is 'wrong' with the vocabulary or spelling, I wouldn't have a clue.

Test-burns will be made to ensure that the discs' menus and special features still work properly, but assuming everything beneath the hood went as it should have, then we're golden on this one. The big problem with MEMORIES is the presence of seamless-branching, and that's something that this relatively straight forward short feature doesn't have to worry much about. I'm sure there's a way around that, too, I'm just not sure what that is yet.

I should point out that the BD transfer on FFS is absolutely amazing. No edge enhancement, no grain reduction, not even obvious image-stabilization or scratch removal. I'm sure some people would see it and think "ew, it looks old", but as far as I'm concerned it looks like the 35mm negative is being beamed right to your screen by God.

Not that the composite-sourced ADV R1 DVD (above)
had a chance of stacking up. It had a nice booklet, though.

Restoration Project X is going rather smoothly. That'll take up a lot of my time in the near future once I'm left with no choice but to hack and slash at several key scenes with Photoshop, so I'm doing the first big setps now, before I get so deep into Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage that I never look at my work-computer again.