Monthly Archives: July 2009

Red Robin – inheritor of Batman’s (paranoid) legacy

I’m two issues into what I thought might be misstep in the new direction of DC’s line of Batman comics. With Bruce Wayne dead or missing (the latter being 99.98% likely), Dick Grayson-Wayne has taken over as Batman and Damian Wayne – Bruce’s bastard son with Talia al Ghul – has been appointed Robin. The question is where does that leave Tim Drake-Wayne? Well, it leaves him out in the cold, especially as the only one who believes that Bruce simply cannot be gone.

Red Robin is about Tim Drake-Wayne, carrying all of the depression of Peter Parker but following the mold of the paranoid Bruce Wayne - possibly resulting in one of the most unhealthy characters ever!

This amazes me because he’s basically become Batman, despite not picking up the mantle himself. Batman doesn’t believe anything anyone tells him because, quite frankly, it doesn’t mean a damn thing unless he’s discerned it with his own eyes and tools. Just look at the Justice League. You know how unsure of the world and others’ observations Batman is? He argues with Superman. No one argues with Superman.

How long until Tim devotes himself to discovering how to reverse the aging process of a clone or slow down the entirety of the Speed Force just in case his friends get out of control?

So, Tim is trying to find Bruce even after Superman has confirmed that he is dead. That makes Tim the new Batman. While he hasn’t argued with Superman about the status of his adopted father, he denies that Kal-El is even a remotely credible source on the matter. Of course, as of issue two of the Red Robin book, Tim’s irrational discernment of Bruce’s continued life is taking him down a road that is not safe to travel. He will be teaming up with Ra’s al Ghul to discover the truth. There’s something about that which fills me with a twisted, comic book nerd pleasure. After this, Tim Drake may be crowned the world’s greatest detective.

Metroid Fusion

The whole game is generic, right down to the box artNot too long ago, I commented on what I felt was one of the  greatest 2D games of our time – Metroid: Zero Mission. It displays the greatest strength of that particular form of the medium, prompting me to wonder why modern games are so overly involved with the third dimension despite a lack of mastery shown by most companies in terms of using just two dimensions. I think this is why people dismiss the games as art arguments. After all, art is generally less concerned about commercial success and more about mastery of craft. It’s what separates Nintendo from the crowd…on a good day, anyway.

Having somehow lost my copy of Metroid Fusion, I procured one from the devil known as GameStop for only $5. That should have been an indication of the amount of pleasure I would manage to obtain from the product. I did not have fond memories of the game, and this should have confirmed it.

I completed the game sometime last week, I think I have discovered the ultimate failure of the game – it is completely average. Other Metroid game up until that point were revered for pushing the boundaries of what was expected of video games in their time period. Who would have thought that the NES in its earliest years could produce such an exciting, non-linear, open world that simply worked? Metroid II did the same thing for the GameBoy somehow, which is considered some great sorcery. Super Metroid greatly expanded the world created in the first game and added an emotional depth without a lick of dialogue.

Hanukkah is nice, but why is it...that Santa passes over my house every? And instead of eating ham, I have to eat Kosher Latkes...Instead of "Silent Night" I'm singing "Hey-hach-dol-gavish"! Fusion was the fourth entry in the series, and it was immediately embraced by gamers, then rejected because what it added were the conventions from other more standard action games: limited exploration based on a narrative structure, boss battles, and character development. These aren’t bad in other situations, but Metroid has never had a use for them. Samus’ lack of dialogue made her a better avatar for the player to project into, and the lack of narrative made players feel more like a bounty hunter with a singular goal in mind. Shrinking the world around Samus is probably the most offensive part of the game, since players are used to the fact that there’s a possibility to break from the normative path and make the gaming experience uniquely theirs.

There are some positive elements to the game, though. While I dislike the narrative, it does serve to expand on the overall Metroid mythos in a wonderful way. Now the metroids serve a purpose in some sort of food chain, being the natural predators of the X parasite. And I have to admit to liking the fact that the X absorbed Samus’ old armor and Samus took on metroid-like properties – making the player, essentially, a metroid hunting Samus to feed on her for power.

Though the worst thing about the game is that it shows poor world design, and that makes the game horribly disappointing for me. There was a point in the game in which I was no sure how to advance because I came to an area without exits. I used a power bomb to display all blastable and collapsible structures, but it provided me with no solutions. After dicking around for a few minutes, I found that there was an unmarked wall in which I could travel. This was all for the necessary path to advance, not for a secret. I could accept it in the latter case, but this is just a matter of creating unnecessary difficulty. In modern gameplay terms, this is the equivalent to making Master Chief rub up against the walls until he simply fell through. It sounds stupid because it is.

Does this look threatening? The only bonus I can see to the game is that now I can connect it to my copy of Metroid Prime, which you know I have to tackle soon, and play through the game in the horrible-looking fusion armor. There certainly is a reason why that gaudy thing hasn’t yet popped up in Smash Bros.

Spider-Man’s Ben Reilly…?

The worst possibility of all is that this is yet ANOTHER Spider-clone. Maximum cloneage indeed... I have to admit some level of disappointment with Spider-Man Annual #36 because of its story that’s somewhat inclusive of Ben Reilly. Basically, a man hunts down Peter Parker on looks alone to avenge his family. Y’see, his family was killed in a fire-related slaying at the hands of someone who looks just like Parker – but went by the name Ben Reilly! Since everything happened in the past, it means that Reilly may not necessarily be coming back, but we will delve into a newly discovered dark past.

I don’t like it. I don’t like the idea of Reilly’s character legacy being tarnished like this. When he popped onto the comics scene, he was immediately embraced despite being a mere clone of Peter Parker. The only reason people don’t like him is because he was involved in the overly long and convoluted Clone Saga. Otherwise, there isn’t a Spider-Man character we want back more than him.

Yes, I’m including Mary Jane in that. Her re-debut in issue #600 was unnecessary in my view, not to mention the fact that it’s blatantly obvious that her catching the bouquet was meant to bother fans of the marriage.

Marvel better be going in an interesting direction with this Ben Reilly thing. I’ve been awaiting the possibility of his return since Mephisto voodoo-ed the Marvel Universe.

Moby offers free music…and nets heavy sales

We’ve already learned that Moby thinks the RIAA should be disbanded, so it’s no surprise that he released his last single free to the public on his websThere's nothing clever I can say about this album cover other than the fact that it's entirely too cute.ite. A recent article states that this same  single is somehow the #1 seller on iTunes, and his recently released album would have probably debuted in the top position if not for the posthumous sales flux of Michael Jackson albums. (At least in Europe. No telling where Moby would land in the US.) What kind of lesson can the labels learn from this? Offering the fans something for free can enhance sales. Then again, to be completely fair, Moby has a pretty strong fanbase. Trent Reznor offered an entire album for free before releasing it in stores, where it sold far too few copies to be considered for the #1 position.

Check the Moby article link for Moby’s latest video, directed by David Lynch!