Monday, September 19, 2011

Tekken Tag Tournament 2's 1st Week at Japan...

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 finally came out at Japanese arcades last week despite the Tokyo Game Show and also Super Battle Opera going on around the same time. Direct feed footage has been starting to roll out as of late on various YouTube channels, but don't expect too much gameplay-wise since the final version of the game is only been out for a week. The final boss in this game is no surprise being Unknown taking place in the stage above, but the difference this time is you have to beat Jun one round first in a more peaceful version of the stage seen before she transforms to Unknown. Besides Jun returning into Tekken, boss characters True Ogre from Tekken 3 and Jinpachi from the Tekken 5 games return in Tag 2, but of course they are slightly altered from their boss incarnations in their respective games (don't expect cheap sheninegans from those two, but Unknown does have Jinpachi and Azazel's stun move). Jaycee is not that new of a character in Tag 2 since she's basically Julia in a luchador-like mask and Heihachi is young again with black hair, but other than that, all of Tekken 6's roster is in with no surprise inclusions for now.

A mix of new and old stages are also present in Tekken Tag 2 as the old stages are not exactly the same, but remade for this new iteration such as Moonlit Wilderness above and the Snow Castle from Dark Resurrection. Those remade stages also get new remixes as well as the Namco Bandai did another great job with the soundtrack as Tekken games usually have good music. Some say some stages feel like a dance party even diving into dubstep territory. The graphics are definitely improved even though at its core its a better looking Tekken 6, but its the little details with the characters that count. For instance, the character models will get wet and dirty when fighting at stages involving water and mud (even the purple goo stuff in the final stage). Hit effects still look and sound the same from Tekken 6 though and that is not a bad thing along with the announcer as well.

Of course, the big question still remains whether or not certain U.S. arcades will get Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The cabinet is easily one of the most expensive cabs to buy and the system (with the ranking and replays) won't be working even though the developers are figuring out ways to implement it if it comes out stateside. I heard rumors about location tests at various U.S. spots concerning that, but don't expect a huge number of places getting it. Fortunately, Southern California is a hotspot for Tekken machines over the years with numerous places within minutes of each other having Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion (Round 1, Super Arcade, Video 94), so I think Tekken Tag 2 will still find its way somehow in SoCal arcades in the near future (maybe in the coming months?). Round 1 would be the likely spot for the game since they can probably afford it easily compared to Vid and Super even though games are probably will cost a buck for the first months, which will obviously suck but expected for a new game like that).

Its still early to judge how the gameplay pans out with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 once players figure out the tag assault system, where its up to your imagination to come up with some good BnB combos, how netsu is being handled in this version (I think this game's version of rage as your partner gains it if your current character is halfway dead), and of course which teams dominate tiers-wise. I'll probably come back to this topic in a month or two to see how things changed since launch week. Whenever this comes out at a nearby arcade, you'll know I'll be there in a heartbeat messing around for weeks and months.

How Good is Drive?? Its That Good...

I rarely talk about movies these days on my blog, but watching Drive last weekend is the exception. There are brilliantly made movies and then there are just entertaining movies. Drive is simply one of the best complete movies I seen in a while from the execution of how the scenes were made and a style of filmmaking that does not have to resort to fanciness, special effects in other words, to make things work. It is also a rare beauty to see how limited dialogue can be so effective in a movie like this, specifically with the protagonist played by Ryan Gosling (a driver of few words, but knows how to get his job done), and various shots throughout the movie selling the main points beautifully well. Even if it is just a shot of Gosling driving around with a toothpick on his mouth, you get a sense of his emotions before crazy stuff goes down. Drive can not for everyone as the movie starts slow establishing the characters for certain audiences that wants insanity to happen every minute, but its not like that. When the action does begin to take place though, that is when the movie hits hard in a good way. The violence looks and feels brutal when done, yet there is a sense of art when it comes to these scenes because most of the time scenes like these in today's movies feel overblown. Drive makes violence feel real and gritty and the same goes for the car chases as well, which surprisingly there is not a lot of. The car chases didn't resort to movie logic to make them look cool, especially the beginning scene (you can see a part of it above) where sometimes making a scene in a city like Los Angeles is not the solution for escaping the cops. Then there's the amazing soundtrack, which also makes the movie feel special with its 80s vibe.

Last year, I had a similar reaction to another brilliantly made movie with The Social Network, another movie I didn't expect it would be good because of the whole "its a movie about Facebook" feeling, but word of mouf from reviews and the staff/cast involved made the movie the hit it was. Drive is different because its a thriller as it was also a movie I didn't expect much other than being just another action movie with cars thrown to the mix. It is more than that as it is a complete movie from beginning to end filled with amazingly made scenes that make it feel like art at times (especially with simple shots of the driver and fly overs of Los Angeles). The great 80s-like soundtrack is also another memorable selling point as well such as the song above that plays in the intro. The simple plot and pacing issues may irk some people, but Drive is my favorite film of the year so far and worth my highest recommendation watching it at the theaters.