Podzilla 1985

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Some Suggestions For The Inevitable Justice League Movie.

  I'm a big fan of the Justice League. I'm not a life-long fan nor do claim to know everything about them. I can't reference things they've done in the comics years ago or obscure characters they've ran across, which is why I tend to claim I'm a fan of superheroes, not necessarily comics. But though my fandom is relatively new, it's no less strong than other fans from the days of say, Snapper Carr(Hey look, obscure!).
 Those characters are really the only one's that keep me regularly interested in superheroes. The exception being Spiderman I guess. Otherwise, my reaction to most "capes" would be "That's kinda cool."
Their powers run the gamut from sci-fi, fantasy, mythology, realistic, to traditional superhero. So I'm pretty much covered. 

Now that I got that out of the way, let's talk a bit about the movies.

 So now that Marvel found success in The Avengers, and even before that, the idea of a Justice League movie was in the works. At one time there was a script that had the movie being all CG(If it was anything like DC Universe Online's CG trailer...I'd have been all in). But since The Avengers WAS successful, it's a pretty sure bet that Warner Brothers is going to attempt a shared movie universe. The big issue here is that WB doesn't exactly have a good track record on the big screen. On TV they've done well enough, especially in animation where they excel.
To be fair, it may not really be a bad track record, since they've really only stuck with Batman and Superman, as much as they just don't throw everything at the wall and see if it works on film.

But with Nolan's Batman finished allowing for more superhero-y takes, and Man of Steel being successful enough to warrant not only a sequel, but the first team up amongst JL members, it appears as though WB is making their move. And after Green Lantern...it ties my stomach up in knots both in excitement and worry.
Green Lantern was...a misstep.
I liked...things...about it. Heck, a lot of it was simply seeing one of my favorite characters finally get a movie. But it just didn't capture what makes the character and that universe cool. Ryan Reynolds was fine. In fact, the cast was fine. The issue was that Green Lantern should've been DC's space opera. Big and sweeping sci-fi with aliens and imagination. But what we got was just kind of a typical comic book movie that, after an embarrassingly short training session, grounded the character to Earth. And it's a shame too because Mark Strong was a great Sinestro, Ryan Reynolds did well enough and can pull off cocky, and clearly a ton of work went into designing the Corps...but since it was a flop, WB may be too afraid that it was the premise itself and not a bad script.
But enough about that, let's get into Justice League.
There's a lot of things about what they should do that I really have no opinion on such as casting or whether they should follow the Marvel pattern and set the characters up first or just jump straight into it. But here's a few things I think they need to think about:

-I'm pretty sure at this point, we all GET Batman and Superman on their own. Them teaming up first is one of the things I had in my head before the team up was even announced. I love their dynamic when they work together or even fight. Superman almost being more human than Batman, being the lawful symbol and example out in the open and Batman being a symbol of fear as a vigilante. I really hope that stuff comes through. So hopefully Zack Snyder digs into those differences in the Man of Steel sequel. Then Batman and Superman can have an existing relationship, whatever it may be, before Justice League. I don't want to have to spend more time on those two than is necessary. I get it. People love Batman. But Justice League needs to spread the love.
-First off and very simply, the tone should differ from The Avengers. I feel like this should be a no-brainer. These are vastly different characters who differ from each other in their own universe. I realize the tone may be difficult to find with characters like Batman being dark and The Flash being light, but still, effort needs to be made to differentiate from your opposition.

-They should come together on their own. No 3rd party. No Cadmus or any other organization. Is it really a big deal if this doesn't happen? I guess not. But it WB wants to separate themselves from Marvel, this subtlety could help. Make them work together because they absolutely must. Not because someone else wrangled them.

-The threat needs to be big enough. There's not much you can do here to differentiate themselves from The Avengers. An invasion type of thing is necessary. Something like Darkseid, Mongul, delve into the Green Lantern spectrum, or heck, something from the multiverse. I'm not too worried about this. They'll figure it out. But an interesting idea could be to use a storyline they've used in the comics and have a secondary threat be Batman's on paranoia and mistrust with him having all the emergency plans in case one of the members goes rogue. Or save that for another movie.

"Just come within arms reach."

-Whatever they do with Green Lantern individually, whether they reboot first or jump straight into JL, like I said, it needs to be...as much as I hate the word...epic. The scale needs to be big and sweeping. Even the Justice League threat could be Green Lantern related since some of the more recent DC universe wide crossovers have originated with the Green Lantern Corps. Just GET THIS RIGHT WB.

-As far as Wonder Woman goes, there's been several efforts to get this character back either on TV or in a movie. Before The Avengers, Joss Whedon was frustrated that WB woulddn't green light his own Wonder Woman script. Just a few years ago, NBC had a failed pilot for a new TV show(which having heard the premise, I'm kind of glad)
I've heard people say the character doesn't translate well to screen. That's a load.
If Thor worked for people, this would easily work. They just need to focus on the "Greek" mythology tone they've been using. There's precedents set for this working in the movies. And as for any controversy surrounding her costume...just for the love of God, use a hybrid of her Amazonian armor and regular costume. It's not that difficult.(I'm well aware she doesn't NEED armor. I'm compromising here)


Current costume minus the comforter.

Something like this, minus the cape...
There have been complaints about her costume for years from people who don't even read the comics or put any effort into exposing their eyeballs to the character, despite occasional changes and explanations, yet it still falls back into a form of it's classic look. And speaking as a male who regularly visits message boards, not too many people are focusing on the ogling aspect of it. Wonder Woman is one of those characters that's hard to complain about. She's been treated respectfully throughout the years and remains a strong, independent warrior. Treat her this way on screen and it'll be fine. Contrast her warrior like nature with Superman and Batman and it'll be gold. Avoid 70's Lynda Carter stuff too. And as far as casting goes...she's an Amazon. That doesn't necessarily mean she should look like a body builder, but whoever they get better look tall and sturdy.(I'm fairly certain any suggestions for casting WW will fall on deaf ears and they'll just find some actress who too short and too thin)

Yep, his clothes come out of a ring.
-Make The Flash relatable. He's a regular guy. A cop who gains powers by accident. Green Lantern is cocky, Batman is brooding, Wonder Woman is a fighter, Cyborg is young and inexperienced, so just make The Flash the even tempered guy he is. Like the audience. Plus, I love the idea of arguably the most powerful character being just an average guy...well...average cop.
Also, get creative with his powers. You don't need to, but there seems to be a bunch of guys out there who think: "So...he just runs fast?
"He just...he JUST---?! Are you kidding me?! He moves and thinks faster than anyone...ANYONE. He could incapacitate Batman before he could finish crying "My parents!"
But I digress. With WB's plans to do a Flash spinoff from Arrow, I'm very interested in how that turns out. It'll be the first time since the terrible show in the 90's and a couple of episodes of Smallville that the character gets a chance. I'm pretty excited. Now I apologize for the crassness of the following picture...but it makes me laugh so...
Some exaggeration
 -Cyborg is the new guy in the Justice League since the New 52. If they go with the current lineup, he'll be in the movie. Look, he's a half man, half machine. I don't have much to add here.

"I'm a Cyborg!"

-And that brings me to Aquaman. I don't feel like having to keep defending him...there's no reason to. It's not the 60's anymore. All they need to do is follow Geoff John's run and they'll be fine. They can't be too delicate with the character out of fear that he'll be seen as a joke. Just use the established mythos and it'll work. He's a ruler and shouldn't feel small or like background around the likes of Batman. If there's any sort of nod toward Geoff John's work, it'll be to call attention to his reputation and destroy it.
The sad thing is, the paranoid part of me says if they just use the comic version of the character, despite being the same for a really long time, all the bros will think they're "trying too hard" to make him relevant. Well, they can kindly go screw themselves.

Honestly, that's all I've got. Whoever directs it just needs to keep the no-talent studio guys away. Let people who care about the characters like Geoff Johns, Jim Lee or even Zack Snyder do what they do and I think they'll do fine. If the studios get involved it'll probably come out like either too much of a copycat of The Avengers that it won't feel like it's own thing or it'll sidestep any inspiration the writers/director might have and just be shallow entertainment.
Humans are creative. Be inspired and get creative.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Why am I not excited for Beyond: Two Souls?


  Beyond: Two Souls came out Tuesday and so far, reception seems to be mixed.

There was a time back when it was announced that I was excited for it. It had big names in Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, it was bound to look fantastic, it was another story driven experience, it had an intriguing supernatural element, and I liked Heavy Rain.

So what changed?
I'm not really sure.

The more footage that came out, the less I "got" what was going on. The plot seemed all over the place.
Heavy Rain was a relatively grounded thriller/mystery. The initial trailer for Beyond: Two Souls seemed, at least to me, to promise another relatively grounded story focused on one character(likely better acted this time) but with a supernatural element.
But then more clips came out and we were seeing her in the CIA, overseas in a 3rd world country, and in combat with camo.
 It just felt jarring and like a change in tone to me.

Now when I said "I liked Heavy Rain". I meant just that. I liked it. I didn't LOVE it.
I was hyped for Heavy Rain because it was fairly unique in what it was. Story driven and laden with choices that effected the outcome. Plus the enjoyment I got out of it was from the moments of tension it created.(Some people call Heavy Rain and B:TS, a return of classic adventure games, but I take issue with that. My experience with adventures games is that they were filled with charm, humor, puzzles and dialogue choices. These modern games are just story driven.)
I only played it once and didn't really feel compelled to play again to see other outcomes. Mine was the one I earned. It wasn't a good one, but those were my choices.

The thing is, one could argue, and many do, that Heavy Rain was somewhat poorly written and contained plot holes. It's much more apparent when you ask yourself, "How would I rate this if it were a movie?"
Admittedly, I'm not too sensitive to those things so I didn't catch on to that stuff during my playthrough. Plot holes rarely effect my enjoyment of a story, unless they're so obvious that a kid could see it.
(David Cage claims Heavy Rain is meant to be played once. Which makes me wonder if he KNEW there were plot holes that would become more obvious  if you played multiple times.)

But to get back to my point, the more I reflected on Heavy Rain, the less interesting and memorable I found the story. Plus, the more I read from David Cage, the more he came off as a wannabe filmmaker/artist blowhard. I can't really point to specific remarks, but he's a guy who's made story in video games his crusade yet seems to fall behind other developers in that aspect who allow more input/gameplay into their games. He wants gamers to pay $60 for what's basically a movie.(Simplistic, I know. But you get my point)

Now it's out, the reviews are mixed and I'm thinking "Neat, maybe people will realize Cage isn't quite the genius some think he is" and "I'll wait until it's cheaper and play it. I'm sure I'll at least enjoy it."
(I know I know, it's petty. But the guy irks me if he thinks his storytelling voice is unique or head and shoulders above other developers)


   Story in video games is still in somewhat of a period of growing pains. While there have been games with good stories through the years, it's never been a consistent thing. A lot of gamers still see it as secondary to gameplay. But, I'd say within this generation that's soon to be ending, great progress has been made. I'm guessing it's for several reasons. The age of the average gamer is now squarely in the adult range. Budgets have skyrocketed. And technology has allowed much more believable and nuanced performances from the characters. I like this trend and I hope it continues. But the thing I'm not sure Cage understands(Maybe he does and my limited knowledge of him restricts my view of him) is that you can tell a mature and interesting story in a video game without taking most of the control out of the gamer's hands.
  There have been a number of games that were heavy on action(in the sense that the gamer controlled most of what progressed the plot) without sacrificing the narrative. I mentioned them in a previous blog post but The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite both did that in my opinion. Others include Red Dead Redemption, Resistance 3, the original Bioshock, possibly GTA V, and arguably the Uncharted series(from a more pulp adventure aspect).
 Cage wants to focus heavily on telling mature stories. Fine. Good. Go for it. Don't misunderstand me. I have nothing against a more cinematic approach like Quantic Dream does. That's not my complaint. But if you're going cut out a lot of traditional gameplay, I expect more from your final product. Other developers do it and they don't pretend that the industry isn't interested in story.

There was nothing in Heavy Rain that stuck with me like Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us or Red Dead Redemption. For a game that's focus is heavily the story, that's something you can't allow. Your characters better be fleshed out and your plot better have tension.

So I guess when it comes down to it, I know why I'm not as excited for Beyond: Two Souls as I once was. My expectations are that it'd be $60 and I'd play a story driven game that I'd somewhat enjoy but would just move on and forget about it. On to more action packed games whose stories stuck with me.

Some notes:
-David Cage may be a nice enough person in real life. I have no clue.
-I didn't mention any of the Metal Gear Solid games up there within examples of good story AND gameplay packed games. I'm not sure if the Metal Gear Solid narrative is objectively good or not honestly. Kojima writes interesting stuff. But he needs an editor sometimes. I have to wonder if people just confuse thought provoking plot with "good writing". I'm not saying it's bad. It can just be so...out there...that it's hard to tell.
-Reviews say Beyond: Two Souls is different from Heavy Rain in that the lead character can't die like the characters in HR at various times. And surprisingly, that Ellen Page is better than Willem Dafoe.
-I talk a big game but I can be easily satisfied by stories in movies. But I stand by my thoughts on video game stories.
-All of this may just be me being cynical about games that outright STATE that it's dramatic and story driven.
-I honestly am curious to play it eventually. I'm just trying to keep my expectations in check given who I think is passionate writer/director, but claims more talent than he has.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Fashion Overlaod!

Season 12 of Project Runway has been a drama filled mess. I really don't feel like there has been a season to date with as much personal crap thrown in our face. That aside we are down to the finals. The race to fashion week is in place.

The judges gave our final five designers two tasks in making their decision. The first was an avant-garde look inspired by butterflies. The second, take a loosing look and make it a winner. This second challenge had a lot of impact on Justin LeBlanc who had been technically eliminated himself. I seriously cried during that episode and was ecstatic when Tim used his "Tim Gunn Save" to keep this designer in the running.

Justin chose his own failed piece for a chance to redeem himself, and it resulted in another emotional episode. The man was crying as he wheeled his nightmare back to his work station, and I couldn't help but tear up myself. He has been one of the nicest designers to ever be on Project Runway and he's good at what he does. I want to see Justin make it to fashion week.

The judges had a tough choice this time around. All of the designers did a great job. The only real complaints were some things weren't pushed enough. Pretty and cool, but boring or seen too many times. So who can we see going to the main event?

 Bradon McDonald has been my favorite to win from the beginning. I don't think he has created a look this season that I didn't like at least a little. He won the final challenge with his dress that was a living piece of art and his remake of a failed unconventional challenge. We will be seeing this man's work on the runway, and I'm excited to see what he shows us.

Going with him for sure is Dom Streater, "The Come Back Kid" if you will. She's had her fair share of almost wins and "what were you thinking" moments. But her passion for print has helped her find her path to the main goal and she will get to show us her true voice in the world of fashion. Much like Bradon, Dom is a good person in the work room and didn't start any shit with people, even when their out bursts were causing her delays in her own work. I like that she's usually got a smile on her face, and is willing to give a few words of encouragement if someone needs it. I would be happy to see her win this season as well.

With little surprise the judges have once again given the final fight card. The last three designers will be making collections as well, but it's not yet decided who of them will be showing with the other two. I'm bias and want Justin to be the one, so we have a "Good Person" show, and whoever wins I'll be happy to cheer for.

Our other two final designers are Alexandria Von Bromssen and Helen Castillo.  As designers both women are capable at what they do but I feel that Helen has the stronger voice, well when she can find it any ways. Her little "oh poor me" parties the past few episodes have seriously rubbed me the wrong way. If anything she might not be mature enough for it. I'm tried of Tim and the other designers having to give her pep talks for her to finish her work.

Alexandria on the other hand has annoyed me from the start. Her "I have to be the best no matter what" attitude drives me crazy. It's good to have drive but she almost takes it too far. Like a Japanese high school student that will commit suicide if they don't get into their top choice college. She becomes obsessive and paranoid to the point that she seems to shut down, and that kills her work every time. She's made some great pieces and she's also made some real crap.

Personally I hope both women go home without showing, but we'll see what happens when Tim has his home visits. Maybe they'll change my mind.

With season 12 wrapping up that also means a new season of All Stars will be starting. What will season three bring us? Well from what I've looked at so far a lot of personal make overs for our past designers. There were so many that I knew the name but when I saw their photo I had to do a double take. I didn't recognize so many of them! And the worse part of that is, several where designers that I rooted for during their seasons. One designer has even gone as far as to openly live as a transgender individual now. No wonder I didn't recognize her, she was a he when she first was on runway....

New this time around is the fact that three of the designers are also past winners of their seasons. I can't decide if this is unfair or just a tougher challenge. Just because they won then doesn't mean they'll have a repeat right? All and all it should be a good season and I'm excited to see Seth Aaron Henderson (Season 7 winner), Jeffery Sebelia (Season 3 winner) and Christopher Palu back in action.There are really only two designers I'm dreading seeing again. Both were almost complete bitches on their seasons. Irina Shabayeva was the winner of Season 6, and as much as I loved her work I couldn't stand her as a person. I'm sorry but it's true. Then we have Elena Slivnyak from season 10 who was a complete psycho bitch for 85% of her run, but turned it around her last couple of episodes and was somewhat likable. She's a strange cookie though and I'm scared to she what will happen with her and Irina in the same room. But we'll have to wait a few more weeks for that train wreck.
Still love this look by Jeffery Sebelia

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Tom Clancy Passes Away

It feels like another day brings another unexpected death, and this time we lost someone vital to all sides of the entertainment spectrum.

Tom Clancy was an author first and foremost, but from that clever mind of his spawned hit films and blockbuster games that have entertained millions.

As a film enthusiast I'll always be thankful to Clancy for the fantastic adaptations of his work that graced the silver screen. This is the man who gave us Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan in a series of fantastic films, and then also Ben Affleck in one sequel. Oh, and Alec Baldwin vs. Sean Connery in a submarine battle that will stand the test of time, or until they remake it starring Rhianna and Channing Tatum, somehow.

It's going to happen, people.

As a gamer, of course, I'm especially fond of the Rainbow Six series. It was one of my favorites, and I played Rainbow Six Vegas on Xbox 360 until my eyes bled. And let's not forget Splinter Cell, or HAWX, or a multitude of other great games that came from the brilliant mind of one of America's most prolific modern writers.

Tom Clancy passed away in Baltimore, the city where he was born. He was 66.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Death of War....hammer Online: Age of Reckoning

It was with a sadness in my heart that I read this morning about the closure of one of my personal favorite MMORPGs - Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. This is a disheartening development, but not an entirely unexpected one. The MMO world is starting to emulate Hollywood in the sense that they'll use you, abuse you, and bury you on a whim. If you've read any of my other MMO-centric blogs you'll become suspicious that I'm very critical of the industry as a whole.

You'd be right on the money, my friend.

Don't be mistaken though - I'm the biggest fan of the MMO genre there could possibly be. I respect it as something unique and ambitious. I had stars in my eyes and love in my heart when I was a teenager and the industry was new. Games like Ultima Online and Everquest showed me that a video game could become something more than a "one and done" single player experience. These games built worlds and relationships between strangers, and we all grew in a new era of discovery.

Fast forward fifteen years or so and the discovery is dead.

The bonds are broken.

The strangers are now enemies.

There are a number of factors you can blame the demise of the MMORPG on.

First and foremost is the player base grew up and apart. Even the worst game can become something spectacular if the players make it that way, but the golden age of gamers is over and has been replaced with this new era of tea bagging, shit talking, and cowardice behind the safety of a computer screen. The good ones have either left their virtual days behind them or barricaded themselves into their own group within these games and have become the minority. They're outnumbered by hordes of kids with their parents credit cards and a lack of maturity or civility. Call of Duty and Halo have taught them to shoot first, shoot second, shoot third and when everyone is dead maybe ask some questions. They bring that sense of territorial isolation to OUR worlds and drag us all down as a result. Some of those players grow up and develop into worthwhile human beings, while others call you a faggot or nigger for doing something as simple as not having the right gear score.

The mass amounts of MMO's released every year is the other big contributor the downfall of my favorite genre. I think there are somewhere along the lines of twenty to thirty games put out per year when you factor in F2P and P2P titles. If you count mobile games the number increases to a staggering level when you consider that when the industry was new you were lucky to have four to five different choices. The community was smaller and more devoted to each other, and the games really benefited from that. Once the flood gates were opened and "casual gamers" started invading the MMO space, they started pumping out new games monthly.

It would be so easy to criticize World of Warcraft at this point for being the ultimate villain to this world we love. A lot of people would point to WoW as the Lex Luthor of our story - ruthless, greedy, and powerful enough to do whatever they want. Games blame Blizzard for opening those flood gates, and some even fault them for ruining the industry with the now standard "fetch and kill" quest style. But, believe it or not, Blizzard and the monster it created are not the Anti-Christ of multi-massive online role playing games. You cannot fault someone for becoming successful. Blizzard never forced anyone to play, and they certainly never forced the other developers to rip them off and take the industry in a completely "copy and paste" direction.

Individuality is up to the individual, that's sort of why it's called that.

Regardless of the reasons, the industry is suffering from a lack of a good community and fresh ideas. A whole slew of games have come out recently that seek to change the way we look at MMO's. From the best selling Guild Wars 2 and radically unique Secret World to the upcoming EQNext, it feels like they're really taking a stab at fixing what we all broke.

But I present to you the argument that fresh ideas have been available all along, and we've just been stuck in a daze. It's like Street Fighter, and the big strong fighter named Cliched Design just hit us with an uber combo that made us puke and stand there with birdies circling our heads.

There have been some games that I've really enjoyed that bit the dust way too early, including ones I've mentioned on here before like Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes. They were great games and revolutionary in their own ways. There have been a lot of titles to be laid to rest in the MMORPG graveyard in the past few years, and yet we're still pumping out title after title like a goddamn Mediocrity Machine (TM).

And that brings us full circle back to Warhammer Online. As I got myself settled in at my other job, which conveniently enough is still in the gaming industry, I read that they'll be shutting down the serves in December.

That one hurt a little bit and I got the same kind of sickly feeling that I had when I heard about City of Heroes. This one is a little worse though, because as much as I liked CoH as a game, I love Warhammer as a universe. From the witch hunters to the space marines, I love everything about Warhammer. My best friend and I play Dawn of War 2 quite often, and I even bust out the original Dawn of War sometimes. I love the miniatures, although I'm way too broke to dive too deep into that aspect of the universe. Besides, I'm more of a digital kind of guy.


I preordered the collectors edition of Warhammer Online and, even when I sold off a huge chunk of my collection, kept it simply because it was Warhammer. I played the game for years off and on, and every time I logged in I felt like I was apart of something awesome. Aside from the stylized and darker graphic style that I adored, I felt like the core gameplay was a real shot in the arm for an industry thirsty for change.

Go back a few paragraphs and read again about the argument that we've been fed fresh ideas for years and were too blind to see it. Warhammer Online was a big push in the right direction and gave us all something new, or at least did it better than previously thought possible.

It was the first game I can remember doing public quests in, so those FATEs you do in FFXIV are nothing new. Hell, Guild Wars 2 based a majority of their game around that system.

The PVP, to me, was a major selling point, atlhough it made it difficult to convince my fiancee to play with me since she absolutely despises fighting other players. I absolutely loved the feeling of real war though, and I felt an emotional investment in destroying the agents of chaos with my witch hunter. I became an incarnate of death, with a sword in one hand, pistol in the other, and a skull painted on my face to let my enemies know that judgment was coming. The battles we had in that game will live on in my memories next to those guild battles in Ultima Online and vanilla WoW when I was a sergeant in the Stormwind army. Warhammer presented a violent and darker alternative to the kind of race wars that games like WoW presented. You really felt like you were apart of war.

As a whole, from the unique questing system, graphics, and PVP, Warhammer should have been a massive hit.

It wasn't.

It sold a lot of copies at first and was quickly praised by a lot of reviewers who found love for WAR. But that was at a time when it seemed like every MMO that came out got great reviews, sold tons of copies, and a few months later suffered a horrible player base loss and a reversal of opinion. I remember Age of Conan suffering a similar fate, and that was another title I feel should have been way bigger than it became.

So why did everyone abandon WAR? It was fun and unique, but also suffered from a lack of content and the people in charge made it clear very quickly that they weren't going to support it like they should have. There have been no real expansions for Warhammer since it's release, barely any updates or new content, and just a general lack of interest in a game from a beloved IP with all potential in the world.

Who can we blame for that one? What company could piss away such a golden opportunity with such a fantastic world to explore and expand?

Oh, yeah.


They killed the Ultima franchise, which is one of the most respected and influential RPG series in history, so why shouldn't they be the one to kill Warhammer?

I'm reading an official post on the WAR website that states the closure is due to the licensing agreement between themselves and Games Workshop ending. For those interested, it reads as such -

We here at Mythic have built an amazing relationship working with Games Workshop creating and running Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning over the last 8 years. Unfortunately, as with all licensing deals they do eventually  come to end and on December 18th, 2013 we will no longer be operating Warhammer Online. As such we will no longer be selling 3 month game time codes or have the ability to auto renew your accounts for 3 months as of September 18th, 2013. If you would like to read some additional thoughts from one of WAR’s Producer please check out http://www.warhammeronline.com/.  From all of us here at Mythic we thank you again for your dedication and support over the last five years.

A lot of people are going to say that this is just a normal closure and I'm blaming the wrong people for this. I call those people naysayers. If EA supported the company behind Warhammer Online then they would have put out more content, more expansions, fixed a lot of the linger problems that held it back, and increased the player base.

The only reason I stopped playing in the first place is because I developed a fear that the game would shut down due to lack of commitment. I was right, albeit a few years later than I originally expected.

EA is one of the most corrupt and evil entities in the gaming industry. Screw those bridges, let's burn them all down right now. From their arrogance to their shady tactics like repackaging the same sports titles and selling them at full price, EA is a devil that needs to die. They buy people up just to destroy what they've done. They pushed out Richard Garriott and took Ultima away from him, in the process turning my favorite game of all time into an uglier version of WoW with poor quests and gear progression that destroyed it's soul.

Sure, I'm bitter about that. I've never forgiven them for it, and when news like Warhammer's closure comes out I realize I'll never have to forgive them.

I'm honestly surprised that Ultima Online is still active,  much less a completely P2P title when so many others have converted to a free system. It's just a matter of time, really.

I know that Ultima will soon be dead, and EA can add another notch to it's bedpost. On this day, though, we have Warhammer to mourn.

From Leinhardt the witch hunter, I lay my pistol and blade down for the last time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jim Ross Retires...or Does He?

I was pretty shocked to see that good ole JR retired today. To me and a lot of fans, and this is not taking away from Micheal Cole, he is and always will be the voice of the WWE. Not only he was the best play by play guy that they've ever had, he was also a beloved on air personality and a big name backstage on the talent relation side of things.

So, with his unabashed love for the business, why would he suddenly retire with so little fanfare?

Well, this IS wrestling after all. You have to expect a swerve somewhere, right?

I was completely unaware of the situation until the news broke on my favorite wrestling website, pwinsider.com. Which, as a cheap plug, I've had the joy to work with on more than one occasion and let me just say those guys are class acts. It's hard to find good journalism in the wrestling world, and it doesn't get any better than PWI.

With the cheap plug dissipating, I'll come full circle back to PWI's reporting of this strange turn of events. Jim Ross was working in a very high profile position with the company as recently as a few weeks ago, when WWE and 2k14 held their big round table to introduce the new game. It was there that a blatantly drunk Ric Flair stole the show, and not in the way that the WWE wanted him to. He cussed, he rambled, and he told heartbreaking stories about his recently deceased son. You know, he was being human, while remaining damn entertaining. Well, apparently the WWE didn't see it that way and were highly critical of how he behaved himself, and reportedly escorted him away as to not "embarrass" the company any more.

JR, as a sort of master of ceremonies, was apparently the scapegoat for the fiasco and has been living on borrowed time since then. PWI is reporting that apparently Vince McMahon himself was the one who decided to let JR go, and that the whole "retirement" announcement was just a way to fire JR without angering the wrestling fans who would never forgive the WWE for their treatment of a beloved legend.

I don't know why they would see it as a problem, considering they've been pissing all over Jim Ross for as long as I could remember. Whether it was dopey angles like the fake Diesel/Razor Ramon, or the embarrassment he suffered with the Kiss My Ass club and Vince's obsession with constantly burying him, JR has long been the WWE whipping boy. They didn't like his honest attitude, they didn't like his age, and they certainly didn't like the fact that his face didn't fit the "image" they wanted. Let's not forget that at the height of his popularity, they replaced JR with Micheal Cole and basically told the WWE universe that the powers that be will tell us who to like, and our opinion really doesn't matter one damn bit. If you want further proof of that, just go look up Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and Zack Ryder.

The WWE has had this self touted reputation for listening to the people and letting them decide which way the company goes. Well, Vince, if you listened to the people, the people wouldn't be listening to Micheal Cole!

So, to be clear with you readers, it very much looks like the WWE fired Jim Ross because, deep down, they've always wanted to fire Jim Ross. And, to be fair, they have fired him numerous times before. I truly believe that Vince McMahon hates Jim Ross, just like he hated Dusty Rhodes when he snatched him from greatness and forced him to wear yellow polka dots. If Vince didn't make you, he doesn't like you. Sure, he gave JR his hall of fame ceremony and sang his praises one night out of thousands upon thousands of days, but don't fool yourself into thinking that he was anything more than the dirt that HHH licks off of Vince's shoe.

I'm pissed at World Wrestling Entertainment, but at this point in my life I don't even know why. This isn't the first time they've been completely unfair to an undeserving individual, and it certainly won't be the last time.

But this is the voice of the WWE, goddamnit! You don't just toss him away like he was Mike Adamle. How can you condone letting Randy Orton, a two time wellness offender who is notorious for his antics that have literally caused people to QUIT, become world champion when you fire Jim Ross for being entertaining?

Classy move, WWE. Real classy.

I'll be waiting down here at the bottom for you. It may be where I'm at, but it's where you belong.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Hideo Kojima Makes the Sexy & Ineffective

I just hope you were as confused by that headline as I was by the decision to dress Metal Gear characters the way that he does.

I'm not a prude by any means, to be honest you'd be lucky to catch me wearing pants most of the time. Court orders be damned! Still, even I'm kind of looking at the designs for the new Metal Gear V game and wondering where the line between a touch of sexy and blatant sexualization will be drawn.

I understand the concept of sexing up your characters to sell it to the horny gamers, and I'm usually not too
offended by it. I play Dead or Alive and appreciate the skin on display, but it's being displayed in a fighting game based around sexy ninjas and is generally not seen as a "serious" title. In fact, you could argue that most of the "sexy" characters are generally female fighters, although the femi-nazi agenda would lead you to believe that men aren't treated like the same pieces of meat. While it's true that men aren't subjected to the same "dog panting" that someone like Kasumi or Helena would, it's hard to ignore the fact there are plenty of shirtless guys on parade for the female fan. Hell, have you played these wrasslin' games? I dare you to find a guy wearing a shirt!

What troubles me is the overt sexuality of these designs are spilling over into all genres of gaming. Sure, you've got the booth babes at the conventions, you've got the increasingly stripper-like appearance of Cortana in the Halo series, and the less said about the outfit possibilities for the Saints Row women the better.

It's actually kind of an odd and disturbing fact that someone like Lara Croft, the original video game sex object, actually covered up and became more of a real women in the most recent Tomb Raider game. While Lara is trying to class up her image, it sometimes feels like the rest of the industry is trying their best to cater to that stereotypical video game virgin who tries to angle the camera in just the right way to look up a characters skirt.

And so we come back to Metal Gear, which I have always thought of as a semi-serious series that has a pretty big following and reputation as an action packed thrill ride with an intriguing storyline. Imagine my surprise when I saw the design for this new character Quiet; a sniper with a past. Because all snipers have pasts, but none of them are as cool as Ed Harris in "Enemy at the Gates."

Quiet is a pretty lass, but her outfit leaves little to the imagination. I understand it's a video game, and with the territory comes the need to cater to a certain sad demographic, but this one has me shaking my head. I mean, I don't see the tactical advantage that wearing a skimpy bikini and a thong will offer the new age sniper. Unless she's taking cover in a flesh colored jungle I don't see how all of that skin is going to keep her alive.

Maybe I just don't understand because I'm not in the military. Maybe that's how they're going to wear it in Syria, considering that's where we're heading next.

It's not that the women of Metal Gear haven't always been a little sexy, they just weren't so blatant before. The female character from the PSP Metal Gear games was a highly attractive lady in an extremely tight outfit, but at least it covered most of her. Kojima has said that with his new game he wants more "erotic" designs for his characters.


It's not just Metal Gear, either. Look at the progression of Lightning in the FFXIII series. If you can get past the initial anger over the fact that a Final Fantasy game has had two direct sequels, you'll notice how Lightning's outfit has gotten significantly smaller as time has gone on.

Is it the way of the future, or are we catering to a stereotype that needs to die a horrible death? IGN has a good report on Kojima coming under fire for his comments on the need for etoricism in his games, but I'm sure the negative press will dissipate once gamers get their hands on what will probably be a pretty good damn game.

Once they get their hands off themselves, I mean.

Cause they're virgins.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Commentary on video game commentary.

   Whenever I'm really "into" a video game and I'm away from home unable to play it, I occasionally like to bring up YouTube on my phone and watch a little gameplay just to sate my thirst for more.
I would rather not get into whether there's an underlying game addiction there or if the developer is just really good. That's not what this is about.
It's not really anything other than wanting a little taste of game's atmosphere, music and all, to hold me over.
I did it with Fallout 3. I did it with Red Dead Redemption. I did it with Bioshock Infinite.
But I take issue with a currently popular trend.

   I'm not sure how many of you are aware, but there's a thing that's kind of taken off and I'm not sure when it did. That thing is Let's Play videos.
Let's Play videos, according to Wikipedia, are recorded videos of video game plays including a commentary by the gamer.
Not to be confused with a walkthrough which I'm not sure has a real specific definition. Could have commentary. Could not have commentary.

Let's Plays and Walkthroughs are popular enough at the moment that it's pretty common to have to wade through tons of them just to find gameplay that doesn't have someone between the ages of 15 and 30 blathering on over it.
That's where I take issue.
Let me be honest here. I don't REALLY have a good reason for complaining about this topic. The only reason I take issue with commentary is because of the small amount of effort I now have to put into just finding simple quality gameplay videos and the saturation of YouTube with people trying to become "sensations".

You may be asking "What do you mean 'sensation'? How does one become a sensation with video game videos?"
(Just pretend you asked that and pretend you didn't already know the answer.)
Well, it happens. A couple of currently popular YouTube personalities are Tobuscus...

...and PewDiePie...

(Can I just say, I hate most YouTube video thumbnails. The ones that involve a real person. I'm easily annoyed by them and it makes me not want to watch the video. But I digress)

Okay. So as you can see, people love people who do commentary over video games. They like them enough to then subscribe to certain people or make their own. The relative ease means nearly anyone can do it. This love of watching them though is something I just can't wrap my head around.

I like the occasional TV show/movie commentary. I LOVE Mystery Science Theater 3000. The difference is in the case of MST3K, the commentary(jokes) are the focus. In TV show/movie commentary, you usually go out of your way to listen to it because you want to hear the thoughts of those who worked on the product.

Let's Plays and other commentary videos are just... nobodies. Nobodies talking over a game about things ranging from how THEY play it to jokes to real life issues. And the part that boggles my mind the most is people seem to actually prefer this to just straight forward gameplay videos. I'm not talking about instructional videos on getting past certain sections of a game. I'm talking someone just...talking. Commenting.

I like to sometimes do a thing where I'll have a specific thought or opinion and I'll Google it... you know... just to see if there are like minded people out there.
Apparently there aren't when it comes to this particular subject. The internet loves them some chattering unknowns mixed with gameplay videos. The recurring thought process is "If I wanted to just watch the game being played I'd just play it myself."
I understand that...but...but...that's not really the point.

All of that being said, I GET it. I get the whys. I understand that people like to hear other people's thoughts on a game as it's being played. Heck, I've even enjoyed a few myself... given they were either bad games being played specifically for the humor of it or the Yogscast guys playing Minecraft. I hold that those are completely different things.

To get back to my ranty point:
-I have a desire.(To watch some gameplay from a game I'm currently playing)
-I go to YouTube and search it.
-Suddenly tons and tons of videos with commentary.
-I'm sad.

And to put it in an even simpler way:
I. Don't. Care. About. Your. Thoughts. On. A. Video. Game. Or. Your. Jokes. Or Your. Take. On. Real. Issues.

I MIGHT care about a developer's thoughts(I listened to the commentary track that you could listen to on Monkey Island 2 Special Edition with Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert). I like them. It's one of my favorite games. I was interested to hear what they said. It makes logical sense.

Why does it bother me so much?
Maybe it's the narcissism of people thinking anyone cares about their thoughts getting in the way of me wanting a simple thing. Then I find out no one else seems to be against the narcissism and they feed it.

I'm fully aware that this is basically a non-issue and I'm fully aware that I'm a hypocrite who, if I found out people liked hearing me commentate on gameplay videos, would dive into it head first.
It probably wouldn't even be an issue for me to rant about if YouTube wasn't A.) Flooded with them and B.) It was easier to find straight gameplay videos minus commentary.

It's basically me being an old man yelling at the kids to get off my lawn when the reality is that the old man wishes he was young and still had the energy to be out on the lawn playing....or an old man giving a really bad, inaccurate analogy.

So...c'mon people. Just start putting up some quality gameplay videos without you talking on them. Do it for me. You owe me...you know... for that thing I did for you.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Final Fantasy XIV - Frustration Reborn

I want to like Final Fantasy XIV. I really, really do. I swear on my replica gunblade and wall of FF merchandise that I want to like this new attempt to save a supposedly hated game. I want to, I just can't. I don't blame FFXIV's myriad of problems and mediocre gameplay on any one person.

I honestly believe SquareEnix has finally just stopped giving a shit.

You can look at the past few Final Fantasy games and quite easily say that they've "lost the magic." Final Fantasy X was decent, X-2 was serviceable, XII was interesting, XIII was pretty, and XIII-2 was pointless. Now they're coming out with yet another entry into the tired FFXIII world, which not only completely goes against the origins of the once beloved series, but also stretches out a story that few people actually cared about in the first place.

Logic dictates that when you're losing popularity you start changing some things to win it back. Look at Microsoft! When they were vilified for the XBox One's policies they did a complete 180 to please the fans and save face. But SquareEnix decided the best way to win back the fans was to keep pushing their own vision, as skewed and disliked as it may be. 

Hey! Did you want that FFVII remake finally? You know, the one that has been rumored since the PS2 era that would sell about a billion copies and rake in tons of money for the company? Well too fucking bad! Instead, let's enjoy some more time with Lightning, a FF character so bland that she makes Cloud look like the Macho Man Randy Savage. 

I have not been in love with a Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy IX on PS1. That was, to me, the pinnacle of the series in terms of graphics, story, and characters you actually cared about. I actually got that from a good friend when I was younger as a gift, and I played it four days straight until I beat it. I couldn't get enough of Zidane, Garnet, Vivi and their lot, although SE has sure tried to make me hate it with that Dissidia fanservice bullshit.

Since that amazing entry into what was my favorite gaming series, I have only cared about one Final Fantasy game since then. Much like FFTactics, another stellar title, it was a huge departure from the FF we knew and loved, but it was a welcome addition and a damn legendary adventure. 

That's right, I'm talking about Final Fantasy XI.

Oh God, I can remember reading about XI every day while I salivated in anticipation for what would be the most awesome experience in the history of existence. I played Ultima Online at that point, and you all know my love for it, but I was obsessed with FFXI. An online Final Fantasy where I could adventure with my mates and have my own chocobo? 


When the day finally came I bought it and never looked back. I also bought the collectors guide, which I read any chance I could. The game was so in depth and massive that you needed a guide just to figure out where to go. It did not hold your hand through the gameplay, so you could only rely on your guide and helpful players to get you from point A to point B. Some of my best memories of the game were trying to figure out what the hell to do for my class quests, and being helped through by a group of old friends that were far better than me. When I finally got my Samurai class I felt like a damn hero.

It was an experience like no other and one that will never be replicated. But you knew that SquareEnix sure as hell would try. 

So we got the much maligned little bastard that would be called Final Fantasy XIV.

I actually played in the beta for XIV and loved it. It reminded me a lot of XI, but prettier and seemingly more casual friendly. I played the beta for hours upon hours and I think we all agreed that the game was pretty awesome.

Then something happened, and to this day I'm still not entirely sure how. When FFXIV was released, everyone seemed to turn on it. I myself just couldn't bring myself to play it anymore, even though I liked it so much that I bought the collectors edition of the game. It still sits on my shelf as a constant reminder of how a good thing can go wrong so quickly. It wasn't that bad of a game, really, and in my opinion it certainly didn't deserve the beating it took. 

After a couple of months the game was deemed so awful that they didn't even charge to play it, and eventually they completely shut it down so they could rework it into a game truly fitting of the astonishing Final Fantasy legacy.

Unfortunately, I think they were aiming for the post PS1 era legacy of mediocrity and not the inventive days of yonder.

When FFXIV : A Realm Reborn was released last week, I decided to take advantage of my free trial to see if I could grow to love this new vision as much as I loved XI. After all, they openly admitted it was a flop and poured untold money and resources into it because they didn't want to give up on it. That's admirable, but after the experience I've had with this "new" version of XIV, I think they should have just let it die and laid it to rest next to Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes.

I finally got into the pre-launch one day early, as opposed to handful of days I should have gotten as a Legacy member. Once I was finally in the game seemed to work like a charm, and I was creating and playing without any problems at all. The game itself is still rather bland, but I'll get to that in a second. My problem free experience would only last about two days, and after that it became a nightmare. I couldn't play with my buddy Josh because they actually placed restrictions on the amount of characters that could be created on certain servers to control populations, since so many people were having trouble logging in.

And why, you ask, are so many people having problems getting in? Well, unlike most games, FFXIV does not kick idle players. You could literally go to sleep and your game on and the server would never boot you, or so I've been told. if enough people log on and refuse to leave out of fear of never logging in again, it prevents others from even creating a character on said server. 

That's baffling. I for the life of me can't understand how these MMORPG companies are always so surprised by the response to their games, and never seem to have enough servers or server capacity to handle all of the players pouring in. This isn't like when Ultima Online launched and MMO's were a new experience, we've had close to twenty years to learn from our mistakes. I don't understand how SquareEnix, the mega rich corporation that they are, were unprepared for the relaunch of an MMO that they were specifically campaigning to win back everyone's faith with. 

As soon as you try to log in to the game you're already slapped in the face by the same company trying to win you back!

I finally got a character made on the Siren server after reloading the server list for nearly an hour. I get into the game to discover a very pretty world with a very uninteresting storyline and quests so cliched you'd think they just read a handbook for dummies on how to put an MMO together.

For the uninitiated, here's how questing goes in FFXIV - PC walks up to NPC, NPC talks about not trusting players, tells player to go kill 6 of something and come back. PC kills 6 of something, comes back, NPC thanks him and tells him to report to a buddy somewhere else, who then tells the PC he doesn't trust him and to go kill 6 of something and come back.

I shit you not, that has been the majority of my questing. I have not come across a single quest that did not involve killing X number of things, or interacting with an object and bringing it back. If the story behind these quests were better maybe I'd be more forgiving, but they are so pointless that you just can't bring yourself to care.

The graphics are nice, but the world and the characters seem so uninspired. It all has a very FFXI feel to it, but in the sense that they're forcing it to get that nostalgic reaction from you. It doesn't seem natural, and I definitely don't feel immersed. The only real saving grace so far has been the community. Though I can never seem to find someone to talk to, the chat feels mature and more patient than any MMO player base that I've seen in a long time. 

Despite the negatives, I find myself at my computer wanting to jump into the world and take part in more of these basic fetch quests. Why? I don't know. Maybe I want to give it a chance to open up more before I pass a full judgment. Maybe my old fanboy dedication to Final Fantasy and the great memories of XI drive me to make more of an effort. 

Either way, It doesn't matter. Instead of playing and trying to find my happy place I'm blogging about it instead, because there is yet another server error that prevents the NA shards from even showing up. My "Start' button is grayed out and I can't find anything anywhere to explain why I'm not logged in killing yet more mushroom men.

FFXIV has potential, but that potential is quickly fading into a sea of error codes and mediocre gameplay. I want to like it, I hope it gets better, and I'll keep trying to find my place in this new world. At least, I will until my free trial is up. 

The way things have been going so far, I'll be riding my chocobo into that EQNext colored sunset instead.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Brothers Conflict - A Bit Much or Guilty Pleasure?

It's been a while since I've watched an anime that I had to actually wait for the next episode to air. I've been so use to just watching a whole series in a couple marathon sessions that it's odd to go back to the episodic method. However Hulu is treating me very well and seems to have a new episode up for me each Wednesday.

What has captured my attention you ask? Well if you know me, or have read some of my past posts, you know I'm a shoujo-holic with a taste for harem series. As of late I keep finding series based on Otome games, and all I can say is if I could read Japanese I'd totally want to play some of them... Though I know someone who'd get a bit jealous if I did... Love you!
But I'm getting side tracked.... back to the issue at hand. "Brothers Conflict" is my newest guilty pleasure. It's highly farfetched and yet I can't help but want to keep watching. I'll try not to spoil too much for you all, but I make no true promise of it....

The Basics: Our heroine, Ema Hinata ( a sixteen year old high school student) is about to start a new life. He father has remarried and not wanting to impose on him and her new mother she decides to move in with her new siblings. Ok no big deal right? Maybe, except that she has only gained brothers in this union and there are thirteen of them. That's a lot of testosterone in one place. Granted they live in a condo complex, where the family resides on the top three floors and the bottom two floor have spaces rented out. So in a sense, other than the shared living space on the fifth floor, Ema and her brothers each have their own apartments for rooms.

As far as heroines go there have been worse than Ema. She's mostly likeable and has a caring nature. She's genuinely excited to have a family finally, having spent most of her childhood alone since her dad travels over seas a lot. She never planned that the new men in her life would see her more as a romantic interest than family. At times her submissiveness get's old, but it's believable in the long run. The thing that annoys me the most is her lack of reaction some times. She never really accepts or rejects any of their advances. Granted we're only nine episodes in, but really? If you want them as siblings draw the line and set them straight no matter how pretty they are.

Yes as the title may imply several of the Asahina men fall for their new step-sister. This family is a bit out of this world when you look at them as a whole. First off the oldest son is thirty-one years old, while their mother doesn't look a day over forty herself. Everyone of them is good looking and those who are employed all have good jobs, well minus Subaru doing road work, but he's still in college so we'll let that pass... Let's take a look at the trouble makers at hand.

Masaomi Asahina
Age: 31
Profession: Doctor (Pediatrician to be exact)
He serves as the father figure of the brothers, being the eldest and all, but he's not always the most reliable guy. He tends to spoil his youngest brother Wataru and has a habit of popping lollipops into his siblings' mouths to shut them up.

His attraction to Ema hasn't been covered much yet in the anime, though he did call her to inform the family of him staying late at the hospital when he would normally have called Ukyo, the second eldest. We'll probbaly see some development next week though if the previews meant anything.

I can't see him with her though. He plays too much a guardian role with her father gone all the time. He also doesn't seem as persistent or forceful as some of his younger brothers. Though that could be a good thing for Ema.

Ukyo Asahina:
Age: 29
Profession: Lawyer
Being the second eldest he's taken the mother role of the family, their own mother being a career woman left him doing most of the house work when he got older. He picks up the slack for Masaomi and keeps the household running smoothly along side his day job. Ukyo is also the one to keep the younger boys on top of their studies and tends to be the one to hand out punishment when necessary.

He's kind to Ema from the start, and welcomes the help with cooking and other various chores. Though he gets a bit jealous when the "I'll be home late" phone calls start going to Ema's phone rather than his own. His own little bit of flirting with her is more in the form of caring for her health and teaching her in the kitchen.

I like Ukyo, he's a nice bit of calm amongst the insanity that he's related to. They haven't touched on him too much in the anime yet either, but while reading about the video game I found out that he's actually kind of an awkward guy who doesn't really know how to react to a lot of things. I'm hoping they'll touch on his past a bit more since they've started doing that with some of the other brothers. Like Masaomi, I don't think he has much of a chance in the long run with winning Ema over, that whole parental aspect brings him down too. I still enjoy his screen time, though he hasn't done anything major yet.

Kaname Asahina:
Age: 26
Profession: Buddhist Monk
He is the Miroku of this series hands down. You're typical womanizing playboy who just happens to give spiritual sermons. He's the first to hit on Ema when she moves in, literally within moments of greeting her. He's also the first to steal a kiss, though it's just a peck on the cheek. He's surprisingly responsible though, and helps his older brothers out with keeping the younger ones in line when needed. He covers for a parent teacher meeting, for Yusuke and Ema, when Masaomi can't leave work for it.

Kaname amuses me, though he's not one of my favorites. He's persistent enough to not let his other brothers win, but he also doesn't get as much time with her as some of them do. He's a bit of a wild card, though I feel that Ema groups him in with the 'parental' crew as well. Not much of a chance but a little more than the other two older brothers. Due to his time away from home he hasn't had much screen time in the show yet either, so who knows what's to come.

Hikaru Asahina:
Age: 25
Profession: Writer
Like his mother, Hikaru spends a lot of time over seas, researching for his novels. He also usually cross dresses, it's generally a rare sight to see him in men's wear. Since he doesn't live in the condo with the others we haven't seen much of him in the show so far.

He doesn't seem to have any romantic interest in Ema, so far any ways. He's more interested in his brothers' reactions to the girl, and teasing them every chance he gets. We see him spying on them on several occasions with a mischievous smirk on his face.

I don't know enough about Hikaru to make any assumption about him. Though so far I don't think he's in the running and may actually treat Ema as a sibling as she wishes.

Tsubaki Asahina:
Age: 24
Profession: Voice Actor
Tsubaki is a troublemaker with a capital T. He's selfish, reckless and acts on impulse without regards to anyone. Well anyone but Azusa, his identical twin who keeps him in line. He likes to rile his younger brothers up over anything he can.

Like Kaname he flirts with Ema right away, and tries to kiss her right off the bat. Azusa stops him though before he makes any contact, though Tsubaki just laughs it off and proceeds to drape himself over the girl's shoulders any way. He flirts every chance he gets, even offering to sleep with her if she's scared to sleep in a new place. As he get's use to having Ema around he get's possessive of her and doesn't like the fact that his brothers have similar feelings to his own towards her. He's the first of them to seriously confess to her and is persistent about his feelings. He won't think twice about stealing a passionate kiss from her.

Tsubaki causes Ema quite a bit of stress, but I think he's manipulative enough to get his way in the long run. He can be over the top but I like Tsubaki, and getting past the whole sibling thing can see him with Ema. Though he needs to tone down the selfishness, not that it'll happen any time soon.

Azusa Asahina:
Age: 24
Profession: Voice Actor
Azusa is rarely without Tsubaki, being identical twins they have a very strong bond with one another. He'll do anything for his brother, but he's not above keeping him in line at the same time. The more collected of the two, he thinks things threw where Tsubaki is all impulse. He's also usually willing to let Tsubaki win when they both want something.

This changes when he realizes that he too is in love with Ema. For once he's willing to fight for himself over his dear brother. This causes a lot of friction between the two at home and adds to Ema's stress with the family. He protects her from Tsubaki, but is torn because he himself wants to do the same things to her. His real battle is with his self control, he's not use to letting go of it.

Of the twins I like Azusa more. I've grown to like the calmer characters more over the years. He seems like he'd have a easier time winning Ema over. Letting her go at her own pace rather than just jumping her and not giving her time to think about it.

Natsume Asahina:
Age: 24
Profession: Video Game Devoleper
And now we have the third wheel to our twins. Turns out they're really  triplets, though Natsume here is a fraternal brother rather than identical. He also lives out side of the main complex in his own apartment. He has two cats, who ironically are named after Tsubaki and Azusa though we don't know the story behind that yet. Though he lives apart from them he keeps in regular contact with his brothers. He worries about Subaru a lot since they both share a love for basketball, though Natsume quit playing.

He doesn't meet Ema until the day of their parents' wedding and is a bit cold to her not knowing the situation. When he goes to apologize he learns that she's an avid player of the video games his company makes. Ema plays zombie shooters! They strike up a friendship over the games and he uses her as a bit of market test by letting her play the new game they are working on. He starts to getting feelings for her around the same time Azusa is realizing his own feelings. Though much like Azusa he doesn't act on them like Tsubaki would. He does his best to watch out for Ema, but get's very irritable when he sees how Subaru acts around her and even gets in his younger brother's face about it. He wants Ema to see him as a man, but isn't about to force her into it.

Natsume is currently my favorite among the brothers...though I don't like that he smokes. He feels like a bit of an outcast from the rest of the family but I get the impression he did that on his own rather than it being anyone's fault. I wouldn't mind Ema ending up with him, though I think she's better suited to a couple of the others. Natsume should just be the good older brother who watches over her and lets her vent her stress to him. Though I'm not gonna lie I had a mini fan girl moment when he finally kissed her. I'm terrible I know...

Louis Asahina:
Age: 21
Profession: Hair Stylist
Louis is the only brother that Ema's pet squirrel, Juli, doesn't hate. The two of them even form a little coalition to protect Ema, or "Chii" as the call her, from the other brothers. Unlike his siblings, Louis is actually an adopted child of the Asahina family. He has no memories of his birth family and at times still feels disconnected from his brothers due to that lack of a blood bond. This is part of why he wants Ema to feel at ease. None of Louis's younger siblings know about his adoption, but he reveals it to Ema when she's having some hard times.

He likes to style Ema's hair and make her pretty. Her smile is more important to him than anything else. It's unclear right now if he has any romantic feelings for her. I think he does, but he'd rather make her wish come true and act as the family she desires so much. I think he's a little too girly to be paired with her, but he means well and cares for her so I wouldn't be upset if he reveals his love for her as well.

Subaru Asahina:
Age: 19 (turns 20 early in the series)
Profession: College Student
Subaru is on his college's basketball team. He had been a regular player but once Ema came into his life his game started to falter. He's rather serious and has obviously cared more about his sports than most other things. When he was little he looked up to Natsume who also played basket ball. He wanted to be like his big brother.

Subaru's relationship with Ema started out awkward from day one. He was a bit shocked to learn a girl would be living with them, but to top it off she walked in on him when he'd finished up his bath. Granted he had a towel on, but it was still embarrassing for both parties. It didn't take long for him to start to like her, and that made his actions in general hasty. Once he admits to himself that he likes her he becomes determined to become a regular on the basket ball team again, if only to have her come watch him play.

Subaru is also the first to kiss Ema on the lips, though it's an accident. He's also the first to openly ask her to date him. Though he's yet to get answer from her. His awkwardness is adorable, it just makes you want to root for him. He's probbaly the one I want to see her end up with the most. They'd just be so cute together.

Iori Asahina:
Age: 18
Profession: High School Student
Iori is you typical prince-like character. He's well mannered, popular and athletic. He attends an elite private catholic school and is in charge of tending the gardens around the condo complex. It wouldn't be far off to guess that he might be a florist of sorts after school.

Iori is sweet to Ema, but he hasn't had a lot of screen time yet. From what I've been reading he's got a bit of a tragic past involving an ex-girlfriend, but it hasn't been touched on yet in any of the episodes.

Iori seems like a good guy, but who knows. I don't know enough about him yet to pass judgement, though in the looks department he's be a cute match with Ema.

Yusuke Asahina:
Age: 16
Profession: High School Student
Yusuke goes to the same public high school that Ema does. They were classmates well before they became siblings.  He's a bit of a delinquent and far from being an A student.

He's the first of the brothers to fall in love with Ema, because he was crushing on her before their parents hooked up. Granted he'd never said anything to her, but their situation now makes it even worse. Her joining their family though gives him an excuse to hang out with her before, during and after school, without all of his brothers around. Though that changes when Futo starts attending their school as well. Ema's the first girl that he's ever had serious feelings for, so he's pretty torn up about the whole sister thing and flat out says he won't accept it.

I feel bad for Yusuke, his whole world got thrown into chaos because of a simple marriage. If his mom hadn't married Ema's dad he could have had a normal high school crush. Though knowing him he would have never said anything and just pined for her form afar. So maybe this better after all since he has excuses to actually talk to her now. He and Ema would make a cute pair. Being the same age and going to the same school gives him a little extra footing over his brothers, but his inability to convey his feelings is a major set back.

Futo Asahina:
Age: 15
Profession: Pop Idol (and a Middle School Student)

Futo is highly confident in himself, he has to be as a performer. This same confidence though has made him a bit twisted and two faced. To the public he's charming and loveable, but behind closed doors his selfish and manipulative. Even his older brothers think he's twisted and not quite right. He's very found of his older brother Louis, and proud of his talents. He'd much rather have him do his hair and make up over any of the studio's stylists.

He picks on Ema a lot, calling her plain and stupid. Yet he has no problem trying to monopolize her. He likes to rub it in Yusuke's face too. He has no problem corning the girl and forcing her into more intimate situations despite being younger than her. He seems to get a kick out of making her uncomfortable.

Futo frankly pisses me off. He's a little prick who needs to be put in line. Though setting aside his twisted actions I do think he actually likes Ema, not just as something to play with. Why else would he choose to go to the same school as her when he enters high school. He's still my least favorite of the brothers, but his chances with catching Ema are better than many of the others.

Wataru Asahina:
Age: 10
Profession: Elementary School Student
Finally we have Wataru, the youngest of the brothers. He's spoiled by many of his older brothers and it's because of this that I think he seems more like a five year old rather than being ten. He talks in a cute manner and is very excitable. He also seems to have a love for plush bunnies.

He seems excited to have a new big sister, and frankly I can't seem him as a romantic counterpart to her. Granted that can't keep him from getting a crush on her, but I doubt anything would come of it. Plus I'm sorry but for a boy he's damn girly. Maybe it's the wardrobe.... all those pastels. Maybe when he gets older he'll have a chance, but it'll probably be late by then.

So there's the situation at hand. One girl and thirteen brothers all after her heart. Pretty messed up right? Still I enjoy it and look forward to more episodes. If you've enjoyed shows like "Ouarn High School Host Club", "La Corda D'Oro" and "Uta no Prince-sama" I'd say give "Brother's Conflict" a shot. You'll probbaly enjoy it too. I'll leave you with the ending theme song as a little extra incentive to check it out.