Podzilla 1985

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Wee Bit O' Random

No focused blog today. Just a bunch of random things to talk about. Here we go -

Of importance to some is the announcement of my next story. For those of you who enjoyed “The Coming Darkness,” both Pat and Lindsey, I bring to you another entry into my vault of horrors. Except this time there is no social commentary, no higher philosophy or symbolism, just a good old fashioned scary story. Two college girls go with ones family to a cabin in deep and vast forest for a week. While the parents are trying to resolve marital issues, the girls keep themselves busy with the few people they come across in the area, including a socially awkward young man with a strange paranoia. When the father becomes trapped in a snowstorm and resorts to unspeakable methods to stay alive, he begins to change and finds himself always hungry for more. I can't give away too much here, but I have been obsessed with this wendigo thing lately. This one is going to be super gory and I'm very excited about it.

Lindsey is still in the running for the Jim Henson/Fraggle contest. Although I think it's a tremendous honor just to be involved, I think the piece she submitted is amazing, and I would very much like for her to win. You can vote for her at -


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Support Lindsey Wolfgong

And vote for her wonderful Fraggle Rock tribute art. Lot of heart and soul in this one, and she has my vote.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Do you remember the first time you logged into Facebook to be bombarded with requests from some game called Farmville? Do you remember blasting it openly, only to try it secretly and play it like everyone else did?

For most people that is a brief lapse in judgment, and they quickly find nothing but shallow gaming beyond the simplicity and accessibility of the one time online gaming juggernaut.

But you can bet these days the company behind the hit wishes you would remember those innocent days of yore and forget all about the apocalypse that looms over the horizon.

Zynga has seen better days.

I've been in the debate the same as every other so called gamer. What kind of games makes a gamer a true gamer? Do you have to be familiar with the classics like Mario or Zelda? Do you have to have a twitchy finger and know the differences between a modern warfare and a black ops? Do you know what the hell a Forge is?

The term “gamer” is thrown around a lot. Anyone who plays a game is a gamer, right right? Not according to some guy on the internet. Don't you go prancing around the forums with your fancy Farmville hat. Or your Cityville...car. Don't tell anyone you live in the Ville, or....

Jesus Christ, do they make any games that don't have the fucking word “ville” in it?

My point is, playing Zynga games apparently doesn't make you a gamer. They're too casual. They're not real games, despite the fact you play them on your computer and they have graphics, sound, controls, and animation, albeit stiff and ugly ones.

So if playing them doesn't make you a gamer, what does it make you? Normal, apparently. I say that, because I think 90% of Facebook users have played a Zynga game at one time or another. With as many users and hits as they have under their belt, you'd think it would be smooth sailing and sunny days for the kings on their virtual thrones. But, much like the great empires of Rome, Atlantis, and...the Empire, all good things must come to an end.

And the end is coming at them hard and fast like the bullet from a guy hiding behind the jeep right in the middle of Nuketown. You know where I mean, there at the edge of the map in what is apparently a black hole that every fucking 10 year old I play with either forgets about or refuses to check because the asshole is sitting there going 20 and 0 because NO ONE WILL SHOOT AT HIM! STOP RUNNING FORWARD YOU MONKEYS!


EA is suing Zynga, alleging that their popular game The Ville is a ripoff of the Sims. Well you don't have to be Binoculous to realize that, it's the same damn concept. They don't even hide the “inspiration,” just boot the game up once and you can see the evidence for yourself. You might also save someones job.

Now, Zynga countered with a jab at the Godzilla (not 1985) of gaming companies, saying that Sim City ripped off Cityville. You know, despite the fact that Sim City was originally created before most of the people who play those crappy Facebook flash games were even born. I played the game on Super Nintendo originally, but I don't remember there being a Cityville Super NES edition with Bowser as an exclusive disaster.

This isn't the first time that Zynga has been accused of theft. I played Tiny Tower, which is a great iPhone game by Nimblebit, and I remember when Zynga used it as inspiration for its own title, Dream Heights. I let it go then, thinking it was probably coincidence. Really, really blatant coincidence.

I can tell you all about it, but seeing is believing. Forbes has made my job easier by putting together a great photo comparison of the various Zynga games and the titles they were “inspired” by that you can see right here - http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/08/08/a-photo-retrospective-of-the-games-developers-claim-zynga-has-cloned/

The bad news isn't even completely related to their lack of imagination and creativity.

At some point between Zynga's public offering in December and the doom and gloom of recent woes, the company began giving out stock to its employees to prevent a mass exodus from the company. What was everyone running away from? Good question. I don't have a definitive answer on that, but the stock option reminds me of the episode of Futurama where Zoidberg owned a majority of Planet Express because by that point the stock was worthless.

And the icing is that their COO John Schappert resigned just a couple of days ago. Funny enough, he was one of their prized acquisitions from Electronic Arts.

So what does this mean for Zynga? Maybe nothing. Sure, things look bad now, but big companies have a way of turning things around. Or, if nothing else, somehow surviving against all odds, much like Blockbuster and K-Mart.

So don't go getting your hopes up yet that the age of Facebook game notifications is over. Zynga isn't dead, though we all really, really hope they will be soon. But even if they are, there are hundreds of other companies ready to stake their claim on the Facebook map.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to send a mass request out for more Land Permits in Sim City Social. This town ain't gonna build itself, you know!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Greatest Anime Openings Ever

Music is probably the single greatest thing in the history of life. Where have you ever seen an art form that could create so many emotions, recall so many memories, or span all generations and demographics. From the richest socialite to the poorest hobo, music brings us together so we can argue endlessly about the whole damn thing. Since the dawn of humanity there has been a song in every persons heart, and it is a medium that will forever transcend time and space.

Anime, on the other hand, is an art form that draws a line that divides the normal nerd from an even more socially awkward super nerd. Created in Japan as a way to remind kids about the horrors of the atomic bomb, anime is the second only to cigarettes when it comes to causing cancer.

I kid, I kid.

Anime is that popular kind of cartoon that you've no doubt heard about, even if you didn't want to. Though homegrown in Japan it has made its way to foreign soil and become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. It covers the full spectrum of genres, from nonsensical comedy to painful drama and all up the way up to mindless violence and gore. It has captured the imagination of the United States and has rooted itself in our own pop culture.

Both music and Japanese animation are forms of art that have divided friends, established cliques, and defined generations.

And they do it with style.

You know that feeling you get during the opening riffs of “Welcome Home” by Coheed and Cambria? How about the intro to “More Than a Feeling” by Boston? To me, it's the beginning that has always captured the minds of the people.

Like the intro of a great song, the opening to an anime program draws you in and keeps you there. A great introduction can make a poorly dubbed script of vapid drama set against eye popping animation seem like a damn event.

So what happens when this irresistible force meets the immovable object? Well sometimes, just sometimes, you get pure magic.

I present to you, as decided by myself and maybe by that girl I'm marrying, a list of the greatest anime openings that I've ever seen.

It's a more recent anime, but it captures the spirit of the art that originally captivated me as a youth. It all works here. The guitar shreds, the fast paced images, the sense of adventure, dread, action, and a healthy bit of sexuality combine to make this intro memorable and a great set up for an awesome series. I can forgive them for being sexually repressed, as the creators gave me a series that I absolutely adore, and an opening that I can watch over and over.

Speaking of bad ass guitar riffs. Trigun was one of the first anime series I had ever watched, during that magical time when Cartoon Network played decent stuff and not reruns of DBZ and Ed Edd and Eddy all the time. Loved the show, and when I saw the Japanese opening I honestly think my face was shredded by the relentless guitars. It adds to the in your face bad assedness of the Vash character, and the visuals do a great job of conveying the silliness of the series that eventually gave way to some serious drama and misery. It's a great evolution that I did not see coming. Great stuff, even if we ripped off Spawn a bit there with that damn coat...

This is the one that started it all for me. I didn't know there could BE great openings until I saw this one. This is the one that inspired this whole article! You have the amazing intro crash that just grabs you, the smooth jazzy feel, and the character movement is so fluid and stylish that it's no wonder this series garners such high ratings. This is the epitome of what a great introduction should be.

SAILOR MOON S (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubQnp4N5MpM)

You didn't really expect a list without Sailor Moon did you? You're lucky you didn't get two. Though I kind of prefer the opening to the Stars season more, the S season always stuck out in my mind as the definitive opening. You've got the classic “Moonlight Densetsu” song with its haunting opening bells, all of the soldiers together showing off their moves, the holy grail, and the mysterious little girl who would become Saturn way down the road. This is the series that helped start the revolution in the United States, and everything about this introduction is classic. I only hope the new series can live up to the legend.

I have a thing for anime horror. This was probably the first in the genre I ever saw, and it was always one of my favorites. It kind of reminds me of Bebop, as it has this cool aura that surrounds it and helps define it. The music is slick, the character art is great, and that multi eyed dog always kind of freaked me out.

NEW DOMINION TANK POLICE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEE9SQ3IDg4)

Behold anime, in all of its 80's cheesy greatness! One of my introduction series, NDTP really captured my imagination as a kid. The series wasn't particularly great, but I still liked it. And the opening was just plain cool. Slow motion gun fights, giant tanks, the hot twins, and that great guitar made up for a series that has been long forgotten by today's new gen fans.

One of only two English openings you'll see on this list. This 1 minute clip defined a damn generation. Pokemon fever was going crazy and the anime, which could have been a cheap tie in to help sell product, was fun and entertaining. The English intro captured that sense of adventure and youth better than it's original counterpart, and it did a hell of a job. The song is catchy, the animation is bright, and you really get the sense of adventure and friendship. Of course, it probably should have stopped after like the second season, but let's not allow its unwillingness to die take away from the moment.

I'll admit up front that I've never seen this series. I was given the suggestion by my roommate and I find the opening to be both mesmerizing and chilling. It has nudity, but it isn't sexual. It conveys a sense of maturity and sadness, accented by the beautiful vocals. I find this opening to be lacking in its bad assness, but that's what makes it so good. It is sad, lonely, and makes me want to know what happens to these characters.

I had reservations about putting this one on the list. I have a bias against it because I loved the series so much until the end, and the infamously controversial ending left a bad taste in my mouth. Plus, Shinji is a little bitch. But that shouldn't stop me from pointing out how great this introduction is. It starts slow, and has that ominous choir music like beginning. But once it gets going, it does not let you go. Images and characters flash by, you see the titans, words pop up on screen, my darling Asuka is there, it's almost like an amusement park ride. It's a classic opening, no doubt, and a series that should be mandatory.

Yeah..... Let's just end it here.