Justice League Coming Faster Than a Speeding Bullet!

So this week Warner Bros. confirmed that they will be doing a Justice League movie with Zack Snyder at the helm and he will be filming it back to back with Superman vs Batman (tentative title, I’m still expecting Superman/Batman or Superman/Batman: World’s Finest or the like).

The Internet, being the Internet, has decided this is a stupid move that will explode in Warner Bros. faces or the most brilliant thing a comic fan could ever hope for, with some arguing so long as we get our comic book heroes on film, the sooner the better.

I fall somewhere in between the extremes.  I’m looking forward to seeing many of the Justice League members on film, but I’m not sure I feel they’re giving it it’s proper treatment.  Part of my reservation comes from the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Man of Steel.  I didn’t hate the film and my reasons for disliking it are probably not the ones people have often repeated since it released, but in the end, I didn’t think Man of Steel was a very good movie and I feel like its weaknesses are going to only become more glaring with each film from Snyder unless he seriously reels himself in.

As for Man of Steel, I liked the beginning well enough. I liked seeing Krypton, though I wish they had made use of past iterations using a bit more crystal motif suggesting that was a common minerals they made use of in their society, but overall I liked seeing it.  Imbedding Kal-El’s DNA with the…DNA of all of Krypton seemed like a strange and unnecessary subplot to me, but I could roll with it.  But soon enough the inevitable happens and we send the baby of steel to Earth.  Now, I actually liked Clark’s scenes on Earth as a child through drifting young adult best.  It showed the challenges Clark’s had growing up as a true outsider on the planet, not belonging and struggling to adapt to all the powers that overwhelm him.

Most of all, though, I liked how Clark had this inherent moral code.  He’s told he should expose his powers because the world wouldn’t be ready to accept it so above all else, he’s taught that he needs to hide that side of him and the fact that, even as a child, he struggles with that idea because he feels he has the ability to help people and he should use it.  To me, that’s the foundation of Superman – he helps those in need.  The movie did a good job establishing that with him saving the bus of children, restraining himself from abusing his powers in the diner by using them against someone, and then saving the men on the oil tanker.

Beyond that, however, I felt the movie lost any sense of character development and even avoided a lot of pesky plot for the sake of disaster porn.  Lois Lane discovers his ship and he saves her from the automated sentry, but then leaves her to die in the ice.  And yes, the scene prior establishes that the temperature should drop so low she’d be dead before anyone found her.  Despite that little nuisance, she returns to the Daily Planet, where Perry won’t run her story, despite some indication he might believe her.  She gets a web news site to run it instead, but we don’t really explore much more of the Daily Planet or Lois’ job so much.  We rush through Lois figuring out who Superman is right off and from a single meeting, we establish…an interest for Lois, I guess?  There’s really no development between Lois and Clark, yet we get plenty of decisions and actions that would need to be rooted in said relationship like Clark turning himself in, but wanting to speak with Lois, Zod choosing to bring Lois to his ship (which isn’t really explained why, I might add).

But once we get back to Earth, well, abandon all hope of characters or plot all ye who watch.  At this point we get the destruction of the world with reminders of where to buy your products.  I’d say the actual town of Smallville is essentially wiped off the map, though the fight in Smallville isn’t as bad as what’s to come.  Superman destroys one of the (I’m just going to call it what it is) terraforming machines and then heads to Metropolis to destroy the other one.  He takes care of that and Metropolis is already pretty devastated from its impact.  With nothing left to lose, Zod decides his only remaining purpose is to destroy Superman himself.  Nothing ground breaking there, but what comes next just really killed it for me…

Superman fights Zod through the crumbling Metropolis.  People flee for their lives, skyscrapers are collapsing, there are quite likely people still in them, there’s destruction all around, explosions, chaos, mayhem, MASS HYSTERIA…..and Superman’s only real action is to keep…hitting…Zod.  Like the whole fight, the entire time, Superman’s focus is attacking Zod.  He doesn’t try to save anyone!  This was my biggest complaint about the film. They completely ignored a prime opportunity to solidify Clark as the protector while building up the hopelessness of the situation and the inability to stop Zod without resorting to desperate measures.  To play keyboard script writer a second, why not have scenes where Superman saves someone from falling debris only to have Zod come smashing down behind the debris, pummeling him into the ground?  Why not have Superman focus on Zod only for someone to get injured by the result of the fight?  There was a chance to show this fight as a truly no-win situation where every decision Clark makes results in a failure on one side or the other.  Fight Zod, people get hurt. Help people, Zod gets the upper hand.  This would have built the tension up to the final scene and offered more weight to the struggle and the desperation Clark is under when he makes that final controversial act to end the fight.

I actually had no problem with him killing Zod, by the way.  I had a problem, much like Mark Waid, writer of Superman: Birthright, with the fact that the movie failed to establish Superman’s connection to humanity enough to make this final act seem like it had weight.  I understand this is pretty much Superman’s first day on the job, so I don’t expect him to be the Superman we know from the comics and I expect him to fail and I expect people to die, but the wanton destruction in this film was just awe inspiring.  Snyder stated he would think about 5,000 dead and he wanted a mythic proportion of destruction like the Greek gods waged war on one another in a mortal city, but science suggests it’s closer to 100,000+ dead with over a million injured and many more missing and presumed dead.

So with a 2 hour and 28 movie exclusively about Superman, we got fairly little character development on this iteration of Superman, almost no development of Lois Lane or the Kents, and completely no development of Perry White or Jimmy Olson.  Superman vs Batman is going to have Superman, Batman, Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend apparently, Alfred, Lex Luthor, and apparently slipping in appearances by Wonder Woman and Cyborg (likely as their civilian identities).  How little character development do we expect there?  Granted, we might not need as much for Batman and Alfred at this point, particularly as they’ll likely have a solo film to do that, but will we get a full exploration on Bruce’s angle in this film? Lex Luthor’s motivations?  Is Lex going to be a sympathetic villain? If he hates Superman because of the destruction of Metropolis, can you blame him?  Did Superman really do anything to indicate he’s our savior in Man of Steel?

And now Warner Bros. announces Snyder will be directing Justice League immediately after Superman vs Batman.  So we’re going to jump right into a team of 18 possible characters, only two of which have any recent exposure whatsoever outside of the DC animated films and series.  No movie to establish Wonder Woman and we expect the general public to just go with Aquaman, Hawkman or Hawkgirl, Plastic Man, Flash, or Green Lantern, who many will associate with the more recent box office bomb?  Perhaps you introduce them and then spin off their own films, but you don’t even establish Wonder Woman?!

I’ve seen some people claim that Justice League is more well know and doesn’t need the build up that Avengers did to introduce the characters.  I just…can’t fathom that line of thinking. Wonder Woman’s last time in the spotlight of the public eye was about the same time as Hulk on television.  Both Avengers and Justice League have been in cartoons in various incarnations in the last few years.  To think the average non-comic reading public movie goer is going to know these characters is just asking for trouble.  Without the time to craft this film, I really worry about a disaster on our hands.

And again, keeping it small, we expect any resemblance of character development in Justice League for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Hawkman plus the villain, establishing the plot, and then dealing with it all in 2.5 hours?  It’s just a challenge I can’t understand building for the sole purpose of having to face it.  I understand building them up separately risks being compared to Marvel, but I’d expect you’d rather be compared to Marvel with similar success than take such wild risks that you have all the power to avoid.

Justice League

You can explore all of our personalities and motivations in 2 hours, right?

And to top it all off, Warner Bros. is still claiming they’ll be sticking to their date to release head to head against Captain America 3 after The Winter Soldier is basically coming off being the most critically favored comic book movie of all time and is well on its way into the record books.  On top of that, Marvel will be well on their way into Phase 3 towards Avengers 3 and things will likely be coming to a boil.

Warner Bros. just seems to be stacking the deck against their favor right now and I’m not sure it’s going to pay off for them.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t backfire and blow up in their face.

At the very least, I think Affleck will make a great Batman.  Hopefully in a few years, we can say “Affleck was the bomb as Batman, yo.”

Illidan Stormrage Should Really Stay Dead – Part 2: Illidan’s Fall

Last time I detailed the history of Illidan’s story through the events of War of the Ancients, told in the Warcraft III manual and the War of the Ancients trilogy of novels, and Warcraft III.  Now we’ll take a look at Illidan’s final chapters to his story as they played out in World of Warcraft’s first expansion: The Burning Crusade.

Some players "were not prepared" for Illidan's fate in the expansion.

Some players “were not prepared” for Illidan’s fate in the expansion.

After the fight with Arthas in Northrend, Kael’thas and Lady Vashj brought Illidan back to Outland where he gathered followers and declared himself Lord of Outland, again feeding his lust for power and ego.  Having already imprisoned Magtheridon, Illidan begins building an army in Outland to defend against what he believes is an inevitable attack from the Burning Legion for his failure to destroy the Lich King.  With Magtheridon defeated, Illidan claims the Black Temple as his fortress and sways demons to his side against the Burning Legion by using the Shrine of Lost Souls.  He also begins using Magtheridon’s blood to create the fel orcs.  Essentially, the demon infused Illidan begins building an army of fel tainted warriors to protect him from Kil’jaeden.

For reasons not entirely explained, Illidan authorizes an attack on Shattrath City.  It’s possible since the draenei and eredar are in fact the same race, Illidan perceived the draenei as a threat.  It’s also possible Illidan believed that wiping out the draenei would lower the chances of the Burning Legion coming to Outland and finding him as a result (though Kil’jaeden found him there last time).  As stated, it’s not entirely clear why Illidan chose to wage war against Shattrath. Perhaps Kael’thas had already defected and sided with Kil’jaeden and was instrumental in convincing Illidan it was a good idea, the result putting more forces against the Betrayer and weakening his defenses without the Legion lifting a finger themselves.

After defeating Illidan’s Crimson Sigil guard, Illidan claims not even Arthas could defeat him.  This supports what Blizzard revealed in Classic WoW where after defeating the Dragons of Nightmare, players could access a scene where Malfurion speaks to Remulos regarding his brother and states “Illidan sits atop his throne in Outland – brooding.  I’m afraid that the loss to Arthas proved to be his breaking point.  Madness has embraced him, Remulos.  He replays the events in his mind a thousand times per day, but in his mind, he is the victor and Arthas is utterly defeated.  He is too far gone, old friend.”

Players often say “he went crazy” is Blizzard’s lazy way of writing a villain, but I feel players tend to overlook a lot of details regarding character development through the game (and many have strong lore opinions while openly, proudly, declaring they never read quest text or pay attention to the lore outside game).

Remember Illidan has always been power hungry and has pursued any means necessary to strengthen his power.  He was touched by Sargeras, granted a “blessing” in his magical eyesight and the tattoos covering his body, which glow green from fel energy.  It’s well established that exposure to fel magic slowly drives mortals insane in the Warcraft world.  Next, he’s imprisoned for 10,000 years in solitary confinement, though he does have the Wardens around, Maiev likely conversed with him (probably not very nicely), and Malfurion visited him, but still in solitary confinement.  Next is Illidan’s consumption of power from the Skull of Gul’dan, making him more demonic and further tied to the fel energies associated with demons.  Next, he surrounds himself with demons.  His pride has always been his greatest weakness, his ego more fragile than many care to admit and twice he fails to defeat Arthas.  And then on top of everything else, you factor in the possibility that during the War of Ancients, he may have had Old God influences affecting his mind and you’ve got a character who is well steeped in a slow, but steady descent into madness.

Now players do say that the story surrounding Illidan and his motives weren’t well explained in The Burning Crusade, but I think there’s enough to connect the dots. It’s just not slammed in your face like Blizzard started doing after the expansion.

Illidan is somewhat insane. He’s not outright raving lunatic, but he’s definitely not all there.  He knows the Burning Legion is likely going to come for him for his failures and he’s building an army to fight against them, but the one thing Illidan needs most to defend himself is more power.  Everything in Burning Crusade is centered on Illidan’s building defense against the Burning Legion.  In this alone, he’s not exactly a villain and why would the player really want to do anything to stop him?  He’s more likely a friend as the enemy of our enemy.

But Illidan’s also blind to everything but his obsessive goal.  He’s dangerous. He’s essentially training a pack of thousands of rabid wolves to defend him with no leash or perimeter to stop them from killing anything they come across.  You’ve got the fel orcs, who are openly waging war against the Alliance forces from the Second War and the draenei and are happy to fight the Horde as well.  You have demons who aren’t exactly trustworthy allies to begin with. And you have Illidan outright waging war against the naaru and Shattrath City to destroy the remaining draenei on Outland.  He may not be outright evil, but he’s definitely a loose cannon that needs to be stopped.  But there’s one other thing I always interpreted that he was doing.

He’s preparing to create yet another Well of Eternity.

Think about it.  Lady Vashj and the naga in Zangarmarsh have built all these pumps and their draining all the marsh in the area, siphoning it all into one lake, one very large body of water in the center of the area.  And what does Lady Vash (and Kael’thas) drop for the questchain leading towards Black Temple?  They each have one of the remaining four vials of the Well of Eternity.  Why else would Illidan have Vashj create a large body of water and entrust vials from the Well to her and Kael’thas other than to create a new Well of Eternity, the thing he’s been most obsessed with for over 10,000 years, the thing that first gave him his magic, the thing he knows can enhance his magical strengths more than anything else? What better way to fight off the Legion than to increase his power through a new Well.

So we’ve got dungeons fighting the fel orcs where we learn Illidan was creating them to build an army of his own.  We have dungeons fighting the naga who are potentially building a Well of Eternity.  We have Magtheridon in Tier 4 which stops Illidan’s source of creating fel orcs. We stop Lady Vashj in Tier 5, which cuts off his plan to create said Well of Eternity.  We fight Kael’thas who we learned had allied himself with the Burning Legion in betrayal of Illidan.  Then we head into Tier 6, which is to stop the leader that’s been setting everything into motion and causing chaos and strife in Outland, freeing Akama and his broken ones in the process, who I’d say is a bit questionable that his soul is trapped. Seems like they were slaves to Illidan more than allies.

Eventually players reach the top of the Black Temple and find Illidan himself.

Kind of creepy he STILL holds onto the Skull of Gul'dan

Kind of creepy he STILL holds onto the Skull of Gul’dan

And upon defeating Illidan, the following plays out:

Illidan falls to one knee, holding himself up on his fists, with the Warglaives of Azzinoth still clenched in them.
Maiev Shadowsong yells: It is finished. You are beaten.
Illidan Stormrage yells: You have won… Maiev. But the huntress… is nothing without the hunt. You… are nothing… without me.
Illidan collapses and dies.

There you have it, right there in the game.  Illidan collapses AND DIES.  There is no “he didn’t actually die” or “he managed to survive.”  Illidan died in Outland atop the Black Temple. He’s definitely dead.  Yet players clamor for his return to World of Warcraft, so much so that Chris Metzen has teased the idea at two Blizzcons and other appearances, suggesting that he would love to do a redemption story for Illidan.  But there’s just one problem….by this point he shouldn’t be redeemable.  You’re asking Blizzard to write a story to redeem over 10,000 years of selfishness.

I get it. Illidan’s so cool, he’s a bad ass.  Yeah, he’s the Wolverine of World of Warcraft and players think he’s so very important that he just has to be brought back, but there’s so many problems with this idea.

First, it belittles his story.  Illidan is a pretty good example of Blizzard doing a good character.  Illidan isn’t evil, I’ve never said he’s evil, he’s just very selfish in his thirst for power, but he does have some good intentions. He has taken action to protect his people, to save Tyrande, and to prove himself to his brother.  He’s a very flawed character with a pretty good story that presents “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  I don’t think he’s the anti-hero people claim him to be because he’s honestly not very heroic.  Batman is an anti-hero and while he’s driven by personal motivation, the death of his parents and an obsession to end crime, he takes action to help people, to protect his city.  Illidan’s primary motivation is usually acquiring power and if along the way he finds an opportunity to help someone he cares about, he’ll do that as well.  So I don’t think he’s an anti-hero, but I think he’s one of Blizzard’s best flawed characters who isn’t straight up good nor evil. He’s simply pursued his path, sought what he wanted, and made the decisions when they presented themselves.  To bring him back now would be akin to writing an extra chapter to Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet where the protagonists get up and were faking it the whole time.  It eliminates the tragic ending to the tragedy.

Second, how would it make sense?  Illidan didn’t dissipate into a flock of bats or smoke. His body fell to the ground and stayed there when he died. He’s transformed and demonic, but he’s not a pure demon, he was still a kal’dorei.  What, after five years of decomposition his body just comes back together?  Someone snuck past Akama’s forces and dragged the body off to Auchidoun to preserve it so they could resurrect him years later and he’d suddenly be a good guy?  It’s very difficult to properly bring Illidan back into the storyline at this point.

Third, do we really want another “I didn’t really die!” storyline?  Players were making fun of Kael’thas not really being dead as soon as it started with Magister’s Terrace (because apparently they ignored the cut scene in Shattrath after you turn in the quest for defeating Kael’thas).  Cho’gall has died and come back for use again (twice even).  Kel’thuzad is defeated twice (though that one made sense by typical lore standards).  Sure, World of Warcraft is essentially a comic book story in video game format, but do we really want to get to the point where we think “oh, they killed X, wonder how long before he comes back to life” like we do with comic books?

And fourth, and finally, do we really want to keep rehashing old characters?  Do we need Illidan back?  Isn’t his story complete and couldn’t new characters rise up instead?  We already have a demon hunter in Felwood in Cataclysm, we had two demon hunters named in Burning Crusade, and we had more training outside Black Temple.  Couldn’t a new character come into the storyline, one of Illidan’s first disciples who have trained under him to be a demon hunter longer than the others?  Someone who embraced Illidan’s belief in fighting the Legion with the Legion’s own fire and believed that, while ugly, the demon hunters are necessary?  A character not afraid to walk openly into Darnassus, boldly into the Temple of Elune, and tell Tyrande and Malfurion to their face that they’re wrong for shunning his order and that Illidan could have been the kal’dorei’s hero if he hadn’t been so quickly condemned, and despite their reaction, is able to safely make his way out of Darnassus as well.

Personally, I’d much prefer to see a new character like this, one who represents the aspects that made Illidan interesting, but doesn’t deny his mentor’s flaws either.  We, as players, complain that Blizzard has run out of ideas, but we then shackle them to reusing the same characters they’ve already used and completed the story for rather than urging them to create new characters with the themes we like best.  World of Warcraft has comic book themes, but it shouldn’t get caught up in the comic book tropes like this.  Old characters can still shine, some are long overdue for their moment in the spotlight, but characters who have had their story start, climax, and resolved should stay buried and whether you agree with how their story ended, it’s still best that it stays ended so that new stories and new characters can rise in their place.

There’s simply too much to lose and very little to gain with a needless resurrection.  Illidan Stormrage should really just stay dead.

Illidan Stormrage Should Really Stay Dead – Part 1: Illidan’s History

Blizzard has their fifth expansion for World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, in development right now.  The game is currently in alpha but is nearing closed beta, which attendees of PAX East were gifted invites to.  And though the expansion is still in fairly early stages of development, players are already speculating on what will happen and what characters may be seen in our adventures on Draenor prior to its demonic-go-boom fate.

Blizzard has their work cut out for them with this expansion mainly in making the story seem cohesive. Players are already confused and split on the concept of the expansion, which wasn’t terribly well explained at Blizzcon when it was announced.  Personally, I think they should have gotten Chris Claremont of X-Men fame to come help them explain it. He’s pretty familiar with these zany plots that would fit quite well into a comic book.

Here’s the simple explanation as I understand it.  Garrosh escapes imprisonment on Pandaria and, with the help of Kairoz the bronze dragon (or perhaps infinite dragonflight?), manages to escape through time and space to Draenor before the orcs were corrupted by the Burning Legion.  He stops all that demon blood drinking nonsense from happening and unifies the orc tribes (mostly) with his knowledge of better technology to forge an army dubbed the Iron Horde.  He then manages to activate the Dark Portal from 30 years-in-the-past Draenor as a time AND space gateway to modern day Azeroth.  So basically the orcish Horde of Draenor 28-30 years ago is not corrupted but invading modern day Azeroth.  And that’s where we begin.

Now, Blizzard tried to explain it’s not a time travel story and it’s not…really.  It’s like an X-Men story, only a bit in reverse.  Bishop and Cable stories were usually centered around either character going into the past to alter history and prevent their own future from occurring.  Garrosh has done the same thing, only instead of altering history, he just brought history straight into the present as an army.  So basically at this point, if anything, you’ve created split timelines and alternate timelines.  Players are questioning what this means, of course.  In the alternate timeline, Azeroth is never invaded, so what does that mean for all the characters of the Alliance we know and love?  No invasion, no Legion fueled orcs, no failure to win means no Lich King.  So Arthas may have no reason to go nuts.  It’s a great set up for some What If… stories.

But Blizzard isn’t focusing on that.  They’re focusing on a force from the past attacking the present.  Thrall meeting his father doesn’t mean something could make Thrall not exist. Honestly, there’s a little bit of “just go with it” on this one.  We’ll have to see how they work everything out, but I don’t expect a neat little package because it IS time travel as the catalyst and time travel into the past always mucks things up.  At least with Bishop and Cable they were genuinely looking for a way to erase their timeline from existence (though in comics you just create yet more timelines rather than erase any of them).

One character I’ve seen players speculate on is Illidan Stormrage.  With no Legion on Azeroth in the Third War, he won’t consume the skull of Gul’dan, so maybe that’s how Blizzard brings him back. Maybe they resurrect him. Maybe with time travel, they alter the past and he’s never killed.  Any way imaginable, whatever it takes, somehow they feel Blizzard MUST bring back Illidan Stormrage.

I say they shouldn’t.  Ever.

Illidan Stormrage is dead and needs to stay that way.  To do anything else with the character is going to ruin him and his story.  Sure, he can appear in flash back stuff, but modern times, he really needs to stay dead.  Fans claim he didn’t get the story he deserved, but I think his story was actually one of the better ones in Warcraft and has a beginning, climax, and denouement for a conclusion.

I'll grant you that he always looks cool

I’ll grant you that he always looks cool

Illidan’s story begins over 10,000 years ago now as a young night elf with great talent in the arcane arts.  When the Highborne were preparing to usher in the destruction of the world bringing Sargeras to Azeroth and Malfurion, Tyrande, Cenarius, and the Dragonflights planned to enact a plot to destroy the Well of Eternity, Illidan abandons them and sets out to warn the Highborn simply because he doesn’t want to lose his magic when the Well is destroyed.  Illidan had no remorse in betraying his brother due to his addiction to the arcane energy and his jealousy of Tyrande’s feelings for Malfurion.  Illidan swears above all else to protect the Well of Eternity from destruction by any means necessary.  During the battle, Illidan fills vials with the water from the well, planning to keep their energies for himself after the demons crush the night elf civilization.  The battle causes the portal to go unstable and…..’splosion.  The Sundering results in splitting the land, but some survivors find themselves on Kalimdor.

Now, these details are more fleshed out and explored, as well as altered, in the War of the Ancients Trilogy where three characters from current times get thrown into the past during the events of the War of the Ancients.  Illidan still abandons his allies in order to preserve the Well of Eternity, desiring to keep the source of his magic in tact.  He was also allured by the powers the Burning Legion wielded, which allowed his own thoughts to be swayed by the satyr Xavius and while Illidan believed he was acting to defeat the Legion, he wound up helping them by strengthening the portal with the Demon Soul.  This was the main alteration to the original story; Illidan had good intentions but was swayed by darker thoughts planted by Xavius.  His decision to kill his brother to win Tyrande, his plans to obtain the Demon Soul to stop the Legion when he was really being used to acquire it for them, etc. all make Illidan seem to be the victim.  But the key point is that he would never have thrown in with the Legion if he hadn’t decided to protect the Well of Eternity for his own selfish desire for power in the first place.  In this, the original Warcraft III manual and War of the Ancients still agree.

After the Sundering, Illidan climbs Mount Hyjal and pours some of the vials of the Well of Eternity into the lake there to create a new Well of Eternity. Again, this is purely so he could have access to power for himself and he shows no remorse for re-creating the very thing that brought the Burning Legion to Azeroth to begin with.  Illidan is imprisoned when it is determined he can’t be swayed, too enthralled by the grip of the arcane.

So to recap key points so far:

1. Illidan selfishly tried to prevent the Well of Eternity’s destruction so he could keep his power.
2. Illidan selfishly filled vials with the Well of Eternity to keep for himself.
3. Illidan selfishly re-creates a new Well of Eternity so he can keep his power.

Moving ahead 10,000 years, the Burning Legion return to Azeroth and Tyrande opts to free Illidan from his prison to fight them.  Illidan leads his own force of night elves into the Felwood to hunt the demons, intending to prove the Legion no longer had sway over him.  He encounters Arthas who tells him the Skull of Gul’dan is the cause of the corruption and that Illidan can have that power.  Illidan doesn’t trust Arthas, but still takes the bait and does exactly as he’s told.  He obtains the skull, breaks its seal, and, again desiring more power, consumes it for himself.  Illidan is affected, transformed into a demonic form himself, perhaps arguably transformed into a demon himself, and upon sensing the demonic power within, Tyrande and Malfurion turn away from him.  Illidan leaves the night elf forests feeling his efforts and sacrifice are unappreciated.

So at this point, we have a selfish night elf who has sought power in every chance he’s had, but arguably makes a sacrifice in order to save his people. By consuming the powers of the Skull of Gul’dan, he was able to defeat the Legion’s leader in the woods and stop the invasion.  He’s shunned for it, but that’s the burden he bears.  He’s a tragic hero in a sense at this point and it’s easy to see why the player is meant to feel pity and remorse for his fate.

………then he goes and ALLIES WITH THE BURNING LEGION.

Kil’jaeden offers him a deal, to scratch off that pesky Lich King in exchange for more magic and power than Illidan has dreamed of.  So Illidan summons the naga (former highborne who summoned all these demons 10,000 years ago to begin with) and brings in some satyr, because having demons work with you when you’re serving a demon is definitely how to go about proving you’re not demon corrupted anymore.  He corrupts some furbolgs along the way and heads off to obtain the Eye of Sargeras and heads off to use it to destroy the Frozen Throne and the Lich King.  Some argue that this is a sign that he’s still a hero, but remember he’s still doing this at the behest of the Burning Legion and for an offer of greater magic and power (because the enhanced power from the Skull of Gul’dan still isn’t enough apparently).

Since he failed to do the job, he flees to Outland to escape Kil’jaeden.  He begins wiping out demons in Outland, hoping that by eliminating the demonic presence, he’d escape Kil’jaeden.  Again, Illidan does none of this out of a sense of good, or because it’s the right thing to do, but purely out of self preservation.  He defeats Magtheridon and imprisons him beneath Hellfire Citadel.  However, all of Illidan’s success proves to be too little and Kil’jaeden finds him.  Illidan saves his neck by claiming he was gathering forces to fulfill his mission from Kil’jaeden and he’s given one last chance.

Kil'jaeden and Illidan

“You done goofed”

Illidan again fails to destroy the Lich King, defeated by Arthas but rescued by Kael’thas and Lady Vashj and taken back to Outland.  So throughout the War of the Ancients story and Warcraft III, Illidan is not a hero and he’s not really even an anti-hero.  He’s mainly a selfish character who only seeks out power for himself, repeatedly allying himself with the Burning Legion for promises of said power.  There is no redeeming story for Illidan through all of this, he has been consistently traveling down the path of a villain.  Granted, he sometimes did things for Tyrande, having always had feelings for her and he does initially want to drive back the Legion and prove himself to Tyrande and Malfurion both and it could even be argued that he does take great risks in order to defeat the Legion no matter the cost by consuming the powers of the Skull of Gul’dan.  One might even say it was an act of desperation to prove himself. After all, Illidan didn’t know it would make him a demon, but on some level, he has always sought power for himself.

In part 2, I’ll explore the Illidan story in The Burning Crusade and finalize my thoughts on why Illidan should simply stay dead.

 

Game Collection Goal

So it’s probably time to start updating this more frequently.  I thought I’d start off by just going a bit into a little information on my dream collection for video games and the reason I’m pursuing retro games that I’ll be talking about in this blog!

To be honest, I’ve always kept some of my games.  I still have my NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube from growing up as well as my Sega Genesis.  I kept a few games for each of them, but not many.  In fact, I sold a lot of them on eBay a few years ago and just kept my favorites.  Not an uncommon story, but a painful one for anyone who’s done so and then got back into retro games!

Then last year at the recommendation of my GameStop manager friend, I picked up and read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  The book is filled with pop culture references from the 80s; video games, movies, tabletop, all manner of geekery.  The nostalgia chord was struck for me and I decided I wanted to look into some of the old games (and even movies) of my childhood as well.  I discovered there’s a whole group out there who are into retro games as well and a lot of people who, like me, see video games as a form of art as much as a form of entertainment.  Sure, you have the games, but you also have the artwork that went into the cartridge labels and box art as well as the manuals themselves.  These are pop culture history right here.  So my nostalgia was fueled into a quest to rebuild my gaming library…better, stronger, larger, awesomer…er.

So I decided first that my new collection and library would need to encompass my life of gaming.  The first step was to gather the consoles I wanted in this collection and then to decide which games I would get for each system.  I decided to get every console I played growing up from Atari 2600 to PS4 of today and a “Top 100” library for each system, or equivalent in some cases.  I did Google searches and found IGN “Top 100” lists, message board threads for “Top 100” where games were added and removed based on number of times people included it in their picks.  Eventually, I came up with a list for each console that I’m actively working on tracking down and finding.  I’ve since also added GameBoy, Game Gear, and Nintendo DS to my collection.  It’s going to be a long journey, and it’s probably going to be more expensive than I’ll want to dwell on, but that’s the path I’m going down!

I’ll be chronicling the adventure on this blog, of course, but once I gather the games the mission will of course be to play the games and review them here as well.  That should push me out of my usual comfort zone since a lot of the Top 100 are game genres I don’t generally like.  First Person Shooters, racers, sports games primarily will be on that list, but I’ll still give them a try.

The eventual goal is to buy a bigger television and get a custom build entertainment center in the living room with each system presented in a museum quality presentation, all cables hidden and each one able to be switched on and played easily with their respective game libraries in attractive cabinets.  That, however, is even further down the road.

I’m actually down to just 958 games left to find on my list for all systems.  Not a bad start.  Though there’s a good chance I’ll pass on a few of the more expensive games considered in the top 100 of these systems.

-Jeff

Spoilerific Robocop Review

The new RoboCop movie is out and once again Hollywood has decided to reboot a classic film franchise.  Now, to be fair, RoboCop was a pretty good candidate to be rebooted and re-introduced to film goers since modern special effects could really do a lot with this type of film (just ask Iron Man).

So with a reboot worthy film, how did Hollywood and MGM do?  Honestly, they did okay.  Better than I was expecting, to be honest, but not without problems and yes, as other reviews have said, they definitely did not live up to the original.  Some have said to go into the film without thinking about the original and view this as its own film, but it’s very difficult to watch RoboCop and not compare it to the predecessor and other recent films as well.  Now, bear in mind, I haven’t watched the original RoboCop in a couple years, so it’s not fresh in my mind, but I still remember impressions from it.

The film opens with our immediate introduction to the Novak Effect, a show hosted by Samuel L. Jackson’s Pat Novak.  The Novak Effect, a political talk show emulating shows like the O’Reilly factor, actually worked quite well in the film.  Jackson seemed to be enjoying himself playing the part of the character who opens the film to present the question of why robots are being used throughout the world to help maintain peace, but aren’t being used in America.  The correlation to today’s current events is the use of drones in the military and discussion of use in America.  The robots are extensions of the drone concept, a robot without human thought or emotion that follows the directions of its programming, which in the opening scene identifies a child with a knife as part of a threat when they come under attack and ED209 opens fire on the child on national television.  The execution isn’t shown as the dust and debris hides anything from a distance and the feed is quickly cut off for “national security reasons” according to host Novak.

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I will admit the new modern design of ED209 was absolutely fantastic and the opening scene was really cool to watch.  It did make me really want to see Metal gear Solid in film as the whole scene had a very MGS4 vibe to it with machines both small and large walking the streets and submitting people to ID checks at gunpoint in Tehran.

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I did think the ED-208 was clearly a bad design (in-movie continuity I mean) on OmniCorp’s part.  They looked very aggressive and threatening in the head’s facial area and the overall body had a prototype RoboCop look to them.  They did look pretty cool and could certainly be a cool enemy to reuse later.

This is all before we get to the title screen of the film, but it does a fair job setting the tone.  This is a 2014 PG-13 film…most definitely not the R rated film of the 80s.  I felt this did actually hurt the film a bit, but more on that later.  At least they kept the original RoboCop theme for the film, which was more cool to hear than it should have been.

Our next introduction in the film is to Michael Keaton’s OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars, whose name says it all.  Keaton plays the part perfectly, not quite seeming like a despicable guy and definitely not a typical villain. Instead, he’s a more modern day villain that most people have come to identify as a collective enemy; the CEO who cares about one thing: profit.  Sellars represents the CEO that only cares about his company’s profit and making more money, regardless of what laws need to be bent, what politics need to be manipulated, and what lives need to be used or cast aside in the process.

Sellars wants to make the his robots a common sight on US soil, a goal that his marketing team explains would bring billions of dollars a year.  A law has prevented them from doing so and public opinion is against the idea of robots policing Americans, so the solution is to create a product they can sell to the public to sway support for his proposal.  By creating a robot with a conscience, a human element, they will be able to gain public support and the money will start to roll in.  Now again, OmniCorp isn’t a stereotypical villainous company as their mechanical limbs and robotics are also being used to give amputees advanced prosthetics, even allowing a man to start to play guitar with his robotic hands (though emotion causes trouble with the programming….foreshadowing plot point!!!).

Finally we’re introduced to Alex Murphy, a police officer whose partner is in the hospital and he himself was involved in an unauthorized shooting in downtown Detroit.  What happened to them is told in flashback as Murphy explains what happened to his lieutenant.  Essentially, Murphy and his partner were tracking weapons to a known criminal which were stolen from the police evidence room.  He suspects corrupt cops on the inside, but we also see that he’s made an enemy of our big bad villain, Antoine Vallon.  With a little help from his corrupt police allies, Vallon has a bomb planted on Murphy’s car and that night when the car alarm goes off and won’t turn off with the remote, Murphy goes out to turn it off and the car explodes when he opens the door.

While the end result is the same, I felt that this method of permanently injuring, crippling, and disfiguring Murphy just wasn’t as powerful as the original RoboCop.  The original film’s extremely gruesome attack on Murphy was brutal, cruel, even borderline sociopathic in how the criminal took a sort of joy in blowing the officer’s limbs off with a shotgun, shooting him in the head, and his gang filling him full of lead.  Murphy was alive and conscious as he lost his arm, his legs were destroyed, and he was essentially tortured with a shotgun and left for dead.  Watching it is still cringe inducing, despite years of action films and violence supposedly “de-sensitizing” me.  The new method was a basic car explosion and a crumpled Murphy laying on the side of the yard with barely a glimpse of the injury.

We see his injuries afterwards in a photo as OmniCorp explains to Murphy’s wife the life he can expect without their help, convincing her to sign the consent forms to turn him into RoboCop.

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Three months later and Murphy wakes up to find himself in his new robot body.  He first refuses to believe it’s real and is shut down by the man responsible for creating him, Dr. Dennet Norton played by Gary Oldman (another great addition to the film), but once he’s awake again, they show him what’s left of his body.  Dismantling his robotic body, we see there is nothing left of Murphy except his brain and head, throat, heart and lungs, and his right hand.  This was actually a cool look at just how little of Murphy’s body was kept in order to make RoboCop and is actually fairly aligned with what is seen of his main torso from the original RoboCop films.  However, the biggest problem with the new RoboCop suit is entirely on the head.  Joel Kinnaman looks like he’s wearing a wetsuit and ready to go diving where Peter Weller genuinely had an almost inhuman look to his face.

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Honestly, we never see anything to suggest the new Murphy is just a face on a robot.  He’s always got that black diver suit head thing on.  It just looks kind of ridiculous.

Tests show that Murphy still thinks, delaying his reaction time against a robot comparison suggesting he isn’t as preferable to the standard OmniCorp robots, so they essentially tamper with his brain to bypass his thoughts.  His programming makes him think he’s making decisions, but it’s just the program running; the illusion of free will.

When we first see RoboCop, he is the traditional silver, and he’s silver during his initial tests.  Focus groups suggest he’s frightening to criminals and kids love the suggestion of having him able to transform to have red and blue lights on his shoulders.  Sellars rejects the foolish idea (though it’s amusing to see) and argues that the public doesn’t usually know what they want until it’s shown to them and suggests they make RoboCop more “tactical” which apparently just means “make him black and look like he’s not a robot.”

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No, the black suit does NOT look as bad as people made it out to be.  It doesn’t look all that bad in action and honestly it really works for what the film’s transitions are conveying.  Essentially, while under the control of OmniCorp, he’s black which does give him a bit of a more sinister look more akin to the robots used in the beginning of the film, and he is back to the classic silver in the final scenes, suggesting he’ll be such if there’s a sequel.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s a great suit either.  I almost would have preferred a dark blue with gold badge, giving a robotic police uniform look.  The all black does have a bit of a look that suggests a mix between Iron Man and Batman rather than a robotic police officer and I still don’t know why his right hand was kept human.  It’s also difficult to not compare the film to the better done Iron Man films with Murphy having a HUD showing him information on the people he sees and accessing computer information readily.

Much like the opening scene made me think of Metal Gear Solid 4, the scenes with Murphy accessing CCTV and identifying people really made me look forward even more to Watch Dogs.

OmniCorp then presents RoboCop to the public after downloading the entire Detroit criminal database into his brain as well as all CCTV feeds and records in the city.  He starts to have a break down and they shut down his emotions, making him more robotic and showing no recognition towards his wife or son.  Upon his public reveal, he identifies a man wanted for murder in the crowd and apprehends him.  I did notice, however, another man close to him looking down wearing a white hoodie went entirely unnoticed by Murphy.  It seems in 2028 Detroit, the Assassins are still avoiding the eyes of the Templars!  (Seriously, if you see this movie, watch for the very Assassin’s Creed worthy hoody avoiding showing his face in this scene)

RoboCop goes on to begin fighting crime, tracking down criminals and bringing them to justice….we can assume.  We get a scene where he tells his lieutenant what case he’s going to work on, but we actually never see him pursue any crime.  He’s quickly sidetracked and pulled back to investigating his own attempted murder, reconstructing the crime scene and overriding his programming to continue to pursue it at his discretion.  Next thing we know, we get a single shoot out with our villain Vallon (did you forget about him? Because he sort of hasn’t been important) while OmniCorp is trying to determine what to do with him next.

Vallon is tipped off about RoboCop coming after him and Murphy pieces together the evidence at the scene to prove the officers he believed were corrupt really were, but his lieutenant was also part of it and was the one who tipped off Vallon.  He shoots both the corrupt detectives (one in “self defense” even though he’s not going to be injured from a simple police pistol, and the other just in cold blood) before he confronts his lieutenant and tries to coerce a confession out of her at gunpoint.  To be honest, while it’s central to Murphy’s store, his own attempted murder and the corruption within the Detroit police department (all of 3 cops) seems almost like an afterthought amidst the control vs free will plot with OmniCorp and Sellars wanting to market his robots to the public.  In fact, RoboCop being a police officer almost seems to be a sidenote.

We get a short scene of Novak on his show spinning the entire incident as proving that RoboCop has uncovered corruption where it had been present and how robots, unlike humans, are incorruptible.  Sellars sees the anti-robot bill revoked in the Senate to allow for robot police on US streets and OmniCorp claims to Mrs. Murphy that despite their best efforts, Murphy died after suffering a mental break and seizure.  The idea is to make Murphy a martyr hero and orders him to be killed, further making Keaton a really well written villain.  Again, he’s not stereotypical evil, he’s just very amoral in pursuit of his profits.  The scientist/doctor that’s been working with Murphy manages to rescue him and Murphy goes after Sellars.

At OmniCorp, RoboCop faces off against a handful of ED-209s, assisted by his former partner who shows up late, but saves Murphy.  Making his way to the roof, Murphy confronts Sellars and, despite his programming to not harm Sellars, he overrides it and manages to shoot him.  The film closes with Novak stating that the President has vetoed the repeal of the anti-robot law and has some very Samuel L. Jackson inspired words on his opinion of this.  However, he notes that cell phone footage of Murphy at Detroit PD indicates that he is still alive, despite Sellars announcement he had died, and still on duty.  So of course, if it makes enough at the box office, we’ll get a sequel.

RoboCop is a decent popcorn action flick.  It has a few jabs at current trends in our media and puts a very modern villain at the head of things.  Unfortunately, it misses a lot of opportunities and makes some decisions that felt a bit flat.

I’ve already commented on how the suit seemed unimpressive compared to the traditional silver, which actually looked pretty good in this film as well, and that Murphy looks very much like a man in a suit where the original film had an almost inhuman look to Murphy without the helmet on and how Murphy’s injury is less gripping than the original’s brutality, but the environment and relationships suffered in this film as well.

Murphy’s partner, who was injured at the beginning and has been pursuing Murphy’s attempted killers while he’s away being turned into RoboCop, has an almost nonexistent role in the film.  In fact, RoboCop has very little interaction with the other police officers at all upon his return, which is very different than the original film.  Murphy and his partner are exactly that in the original and they work together after he returns as RoboCop.  She is the real link he maintains to his past self and his humanity.  That role is shifted to his family still being there in the new one since they didn’t erase his memory of them at all.  However, his interaction with his wife and son are minimal and don’t seem to have a lasting impact on the film, though it is the reason he overrides his programming and pursues his own murder investigation.

The lack of involvement by his partner also contributes to another problem with the film: The setting.  In the original, and in our modern times, Detroit is definitely on hard times.  The city recently filed for bankruptcy and though it’s a supposedly run down city in 2028, nothing really indicates it.  The city looks pristine and has an optimistic feel to it with occasional crime like any other city.  While Murphy accessing criminal databases and sees crimes picked up on CCTV (surveillance is everywhere), we never get a real impression that Detroit is being dragged down by crime.  The only criminal intervention we see is the apprehension of a murder suspect at RoboCop’s unveiling and his shoot out with the man who tried to kill him, which is rather short lived and has a very video game quality to the filming.

With his humanity tied to his family rather than his partner, they seem terribly underutilized.  Essentially, he sees his wife via Skype shortly after waking up, meets his wife and son once after coming back, then after he’s reprogrammed he’s kept away from them for the rest of the film other than one encounter where she tries to get through to him and then when he sees them at the climax on the roof of OmniCorp.  It just felt like they were wanting to do more with that, but it wasn’t fleshed out and explored.

This last one is a bit of a nitpick and entirely personal preference, but I wasn’t crazy about his dual guns.

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He has his usual hand cannon from the original, which can be used with lethal force, but is also a taser gun for nonlethal force most of the time.  His left hand uses a semi automatic mini-rifle of sorts.  While there’s nothing particularly wrong with him having both options, and a nonlethal weapon makes sense for him to carry in today’s modern film, it just didn’t feel as cool as the automatic burst pistol of the original.

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My only other personal nitpick was the voice.  They didn’t roboticize it as much as Wellers voice in the original and it came off a little more man than RoboCop.  I personally think there’s two reasons for this and the face being just in a suit: actor recognition.  This is a big budget film and they want the lead star to be recognized and noticeable, a trend I don’t approve of in modern movies.  Focus on the character, not the actor.  Hugo Weaving did an entire movie without his face ever being shown and he was awesome in it.

While these areas fell short, I did feel like it was a decent “origin” film to introduce RoboCop to a new generation.  The black suit wasn’t my cup of tea, but it worked for the “corporate control” RoboCop.  It did feel like they should have transitioned him to the silver classic look for the final battle rather than afterwards, but at least the implication is there that the classic look will be used if there’s a sequel.  Honestly, there’s a lot of potential for the new series and a sequel could even come off better than the first, but the box office will determine if that happens or not.

All in all, though, even if you don’t like the new RoboCop, it’s a good film to have been rebooted.  At the very least, it introduces RoboCop to a new generation that may have never otherwise seen the character and many of those modern movie goers could very well decide to go watch the original film after seeing the new one.

Retro Finds in Florida

Just after my 33rd birthday, I found myself on a business trip to the Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida.  Over seven days, I worked 96 hours, which didn’t leave much time to do anything outside of work and pass out.  However, after a bit of research one night, the next day, I went to a Consignment Resale shop, Owl’s Treasures, Inc. after seeing some games that interested me on their website.  When I went in, they had all the games I was interested in and then some.

First up, they had Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 complete in the box for $8.  The box isn’t in the best condition, but I was really excited to find the game complete.  On top of the box, game, and manual, it still had the Activision Video Game Cartridge Limited One Year Warranty card (I think it’s probably a bit too late to make use of that!) and a few bonuses.  Instruction manuals for River Raid, Donkey Kong, Bowling, and Warlords were in the Pac Man box!

So, do you know the game’s story? There’s more detail in the manual than you’d guess.  The goal of the game is to keep Pac-Man happy and healthy in his home of Mazeland.  The little dots that Pac-Man eats? Those are video wafers, and of course everyone knows the power pills, but there are also vitamins that appear briefly for 100 points if you manage to snag them.  Video wafers are apparently what Pac-Man eats for nutrition.

Pac-Man was already a hit in the arcade before it came to the “privacy of your own home” which, according to the instructions, would let you practice so you could show off next time you were at the arcade.  The instructions detail the basic notion of the power pills and being able to eat the ghosts, but the manual never mentions the ghosts by name.  So while the arcade identified Chaser, Ambusher, Fickle, and Stupid, or Shadow, Speedy, Bashful, and Pokey in the US still BETTER known as Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde, the Atari manual gave no names whatsoever. They were simply ghosts.

The Atari cartridge did have a number of options. You could play game A or B based on the switch setting on your console and there were eight additional differences available that altered the speed at which Pac-Man and/or the ghosts moved, making the difficulty easier or harder depending on the settings.

The box isn’t in the greatest condition and if I come across one in better condition, I’ll probably jump on it and sell this one, but having all the documentation in the box for the first video game I remember playing on a console, and one of the most influential games in history, was awesome for me.

Pac-Man for Atari 2600 picked up in Florida

That isn’t a light reflected on the table…it’s a power pill.

Pac-Man, or Puckman, was lukewarm in Japan, but was the most popular game upon release in the US and exploded into the most popular thing in the video game industry to that point.  Arcade cabinets of Pac-Man sold at retail for $2400 and can now be a bit harder to find with the collapse of the video game industry in the early 80s leading to a lot of arcade cabinets being thrown out, but the ones that were on eBay at the time of this writing was under $1,000 (Ms. Pac-Man is much easier to find, though).  Someday I will own a Pac-Man arcade cabinet in my home.

Twin Galaxies has estimated the game is the highest grossing game of all time, it’s been voted and is considered one of the greatest video games of all time, and is one of the most influential games of all time as well.  It was one of the first games to open up to draw in the female demographic, has influenced other games by being the first with power ups and is credited as being the first foundations of the stealth game, and even inspired notable game designers later.  Google even redesigned their page to honor Pac-Man for the 30th anniversary, which you can still play.

I’m looking forward to the year 2030, when Pac-Man will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

I found other games in Florida at Owl’s Consignment and Resale Shop.  Chopper Command, Pigs in Space, Riddle of the Sphinx, and Yars’ Command for the 2600, all in the box with manuals as well as Super Pitfall and Star Tropics complete for NES.  I also got Yo Noid! for NES loose, Xenogears (though the manual is missing) for Playstation, and Dark Cloud 2 for Playstation 2 as well!  All in all, I spent about $150 on what came out to around $200 worth of games.  The family that runs Owl’s Consignment Shop are really nice and price fairly, using Pricecharting as their guideline for games, but they have plenty of things for the non-gamer as well.  If you’re in the Ft. Lauderdale area, I certainly recommend stopping by or just check the website. They do ship, and they might have something you’re looking for!

Introduction to Ninja Fox Games & More

I thought about jumping right into this blog with a first article, but decided introductions were in order first, for both the blog and the author.

I was born in January 1981 and when I was little, a good friend of mine had an Atari 2600.  The first games I remember playing are Pac Man, Chopper Command, and Joust.  From that point on, I’ve been a gamer my entire life.  In elementary school, I worked with my parents’ help to sell raffle tickets for a fund raiser and won the first place prize for selling the most tickets. I won $100 and used that money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System.  My dad and I would play Super Mario Bros. together to see who could beat it first.  My dad rescued Princess Toadstool before I did, but I beat the game with the fire flower’s power first.

That first taste of video game victory was so sweet.

A few years later during a trip to visit a relative in Houston, TX, I bought the Super Nintendo Entertainment system which still has some of my favorite games of all time.

Oh Squaresoft, I miss you…

I later purchased a Sega Genesis and Sega Game Gear, a Game Boy Pocket, and a GameBoy Color.  I never bought a Sega Saturn, but I rented it from the local Blockbuster and remember playing Panzer Dragoon.  I was primarily a Nintendo guy with my Sega experience mostly contained to Sonic the Hedgehog and a few other titles, but like so many other RPG fans, I jumped ship when Final Fantasy VII came out on the Playstation.

Because this was mind blowing cutting edge polygons right here.  And because we fell in love (lust?) with Tifa Lockheart.
Coincidentally, this was my standard team!

I didn’t completely abandon Nintendo considering I came back to the N64 two years later.  I continued with the GameCube as well as the PS2 and later the PS3 and I’ve recently gotten a Nintendo Wii and got a release Playstation 4.

By 2013, I had sold a lot of my games, but had kept all my consoles and I discovered there are a lot of people out there who, like me, still love the old games as much as new ones and there are groups out there focused on collecting retro games.  I decided that I wanted to gather up some of the old games and start to dig more into the history of video games over the years and decided I’d go back and get every system I’ve ever played in addition to the ones I’ve owned through the years and plan to build a “Top 100” library for each console.

My library now includes:
Atari 2600
Nintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Sega Genesis with Sega CD & Sega 32X
Game Gear
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega Saturn
Sega Dreamcast
N64
GameCube
Playstation
Playstation 2
Playstation 3
Playstation Vita
Nintendo Wii
Playstation 4

Fair warning now, I’ve never been an X-Box fan and have never played X-Box, X-Box 360, nor do I have any interest in the X-Box One.

I’ve also got a fairly well rooted history with MMORPGs as well!  I played EverQuest for about 4 years, Final Fantasy XI for 1 year, World of Warcraft for 9 continuous, uninterrupted years, dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Final Fantasy XIV before finally moving currently into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

So there you have my background in Video Games, but what’s up with the title of this blog saying “& More” huh?  Well, I’m not just a gaming geek, I’m a well rounded geek/nerd!

At age 10, I picked up X-Men #1
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So now I’ve been collecting comic books for 23 years.  I’ve focused on X-Men, but I’ve collected quite a few Uncanny X-Men, a full run of Wolverine, and full run of Amazing Spider-Man from its first relaunch/renumbering (later dropped for the standard numbering) along with a decent mix of other titles from Marvel, an occasional run in Batman, and some other publishers as well.  Currently, Superior Spider-Man (soon to again be Amazing Spider-Man) and IDW’s TMNT are my favorite monthly books and I’ve lost so much interest since Marvel Now!, my ongoing subscription to Wolverine and any X-Titles is really in question.

I also am a bit of an otaku, having started with Sci-Fi Channel airing what was then Saturday Anime, but often called Japanimation at the time with Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Project A-Ko, and one of my favorites to this day, Record of Lodoss War.

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Kind of surprising how well D&D works as an anime.

Over the years, I’ve continued to watch anime and have attended A-Kon in Dallas, TX for the last nine years with 2014 being my 10 year anniversary in attendance.  If I get any readers to this blog who love anime, don’t hesitate to e-mail suggestions to watch!  This anime interest has extended into a few series of manga, though I don’t tend to pick those up anymore simply due to the sheer volume of a series and the cost in keeping up with it.

My interest in anime has also led me to a financially semi-unhealthy interest in statues and figures, which weren’t so bad contained to anime, but got a bit insane expanding to the statue maquettes from Sideshow Collectibles of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Fellowship of the Ring (where’s Merry and Pippin, Sideshow?!)

I also enjoy a lot of different movies, TV series, animated series, and web series such as the Jace Hall Show and Felicia Day’s The Guild!

So that explains the “Games & More” so we’re all done!

Wait, what’s up with the whole “Ninja Fox” thing?  Well, to put it simply, I like foxes and I like ninja.  A friend of mine and I were developing a web comic that I’m now planning to move to a novel format and one of the main characters is based off Japanese kitsune myths and is admittedly one of my favorite characters in the series.  The character’s name is “Swift” (yes, that just might be a slight homage to this guy) and he’s a ninja and has fox ears and a tail.  On various forums and online games I’ll use NinjaFox, or SwiftNinjaFox as a handle.

So there you have it. A potentially unnecessarily long introduction to this blog.  I look forward to writing and sharing more thoughts, opinions, and perhaps a small helping of nonsense.

-Jeff “SwiftNinjaFox”