TMNT goes down without a fight
By Nick Elmer
March 28, 2007
TMNT tries to recapture what made the original films so much fun while at the same time putting a new spin on the characters and world they inhabit. It fails in both attempts.
The movie’s main fault is that it tries to cover too much ground in the small amount of time it is allotted (roughly an hour and a half). The movie is freckled with way too many subplots. Raphael has started fighting crime with an alter ego, Casey Jones is having trouble settling down with April, Leonardo no longer thinks that he can lead the team and Raphael and Leo are bickering again.
The movie had far too many characters as well. Jones and April, although fun to see, were not essential to the plot of the movie and could have been done without entirely. This goes for the Foot Clan as well. The movie just seemed to be trying to win over fans by throwing in characters with nostalgic value.
All this may seem like nitpicking. After all, the movie is aimed at children, and they are certainly not going to get huffy about a movie’s terrible pacing. Then what could a child, a young’un, the future of our world, have to say while watching TMNT?
“Where’s the karate?”
I spent most of my time watching this movie of confusing and forced emotional dialogues between giant ninja turtles wondering why they were not acting like giant ninja turtles. The film had a pathetic offering as far as action goes. There were only two fights worth mentioning, the first one being the showdown between Leonardo and Raphael and the second the film’s final battle. Both fight scenes put together were probably under three minutes.
Then, even when the movie gives us some measly scraps of karate goodness, the action comes out feeling stuffy and strained. The action is fast and hard, but the camera is just too up in the fighters’ business for the viewer to grasp what is going on. Heads are cut off by the top of the screen, the fighters jump in and out of frame too quickly, and the fighting is so brief and cartoonish that no sense of excitement is derived, just a sense of car sickness.
To further one’s sickness, the movie offers a large quantity of terrible one liners. These would not be so bad if they were not so frequently and shamelessly thrown into the audience’s lap instead of some actual progressive dialogue. The writers were clearly trying to emulate the humor of both the cartoons and the original movies, but they overdid it.
One good thing about the movie is the beautiful CGI animation. The turtles look great close up, with detailed skin and character models that do a great job of displaying emotions. The human models, however, are not up to snuff in this aspect and look more like rigid talking toys than flesh and bone characters of a story.
There are many complaints to be had about this film, but one sticks out in my mind the greatest. It is a clear slap to the face of the previous films in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles catalogue. This one problem will surely crush the souls of older fans. That complaint is: Splinter did not make a funny.
And where the heck was Usagi Yojimbo?
Posts Tagged ‘Article’
This is the last of these articles since I don’t think I have any other Collegian articles to put up here anyway. It was my senior send off and really has nothing to do with anything besides being a farewell to the newspaper staff.
CAKE Editor took it seriously
By Nick Elmer
April 23, 2008
I’ve put off writing this till the last minute. Not out of dread, no. The fact is, if I handled this assignment any other way it would have been a gross misrepresentation of my time at The Collegian.
I’ve been involved with this paper since the spring semester of my freshman year when I started sending it terrible, unfunny comics. Since then I’ve somehow lucked into the position of working on CAKE every week and getting to hang out in the Collegian office with some of the best people around.
This year was by far the best year I’ve ever had in Collegian. It really sucks though, I would much rather be forced to leave an office full of boring jerks but instead I have to give up you guys and the environment we all created. John and Nate have a big part to do with this awesome year. John with his quick wit, excitement over any possible scheme we brewed up, and ability to inspire the fiercest of man-crushes in his fellow editors made going to the office always a fun idea. After all, hey, John might be there. Nate, easily the most likable guy I’ve ever known, is always a treat to be around. I’ve seen Nate get along with sorority girls and janitors. Everyone loves Nate. Everyone.
I wouldn’t have stayed with the Collegian this long if it weren’t for those who have accompanied me these years as well. Katie always arrived in a good mood and a willingness to go through whatever horrible crap we managed to think up. Erin, our darling-faced editor and chief, grew from the quiet girl doing news to our kick-ass, take no names, read it and weep leader. Frank always asked the questions everyone else was too tired to ask and kept us honest with ourselves. The Devil’s Advocate incarnate, Frank would make you argue for your right to your own last name. I was lucky enough to get to know Sam Fran better this year too. After a year of just hearing about him, he always seemed legendary. Thinking he was too cool for me then, after this year of getting to know him I’m now convinced he’s too cool for anyone.
I met Joe during my first month at La Salle and is a big part of why I’m so involved with the Collegian. We’ve lived together for two years, gone through periods of love and hate, and I still have nothing but incredible respect for the boy. During crises of morality he’s always helped me back onto the straight and narrow, as he does for the Collegian every week. It’s been said before but it’s true: Joe Pelone is the heart of the Collegian. I’m lucky to have him as a friend.
I have nothing but faith in the incoming editors because they take this college newspaper just as seriously as we all did. Angelo, Paul, Liz, Elizabeth, Olivia, Gauger, Erin: good luck, love this while it lasts, and don’t fuck anything up too bad.
Now I have saved the best for last. Eric “Crack” Jaen, has been my partner in slime for two years with CAKE. More than just that, he has been one of my best friends for longer. Eric’s the most reliable, helpful, greatest guy I have even been smart enough to trick into hanging out with me. He’s the only person I’ve ever met who looks great with bed head and can just chat about things too insignificant to be nothing for hours. We thought of fun ways for our dorm rooms to be flooded, we went on frequent toy shopping sprees, and we made Joe look really crazy more than once. If CAKE was ever funny, it’s because Eric wrote it. If people in the office were ever smiling, it’s because Eric was there. If my college years were awesome (they were) it’s because Eric made them awesome.
Now that I am graduating, I guess I can finally understand to what previous editors wrote in their senior send offs: “I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m nervous. I’m exciting. I love you. I’ll miss you.”
Visceral Video Game – Giants: Citizen Kabuto
By Nick Elmer
March 21, 2007
Nothing hurts a gamer more than when a great title goes completely unnoticed. There are two known reasons this happened to Giants: Citizen Kabuto when it was released for the PS2 back during the system’s starter years. The first reason is the game is actually a re-mastered version of a PC game, which was riddled with glitches and game play bugs. The second reason: Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a stupid name for a video game.
Yet with the game’s quirky, PG-13 humor and diverging modes, the title manages to fit. Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a game that actually encompasses three separated games with interlocked storylines. To some seasoned gamers this concept sounds like a recipe for a confusing disaster. Yet Giants: Citizen Kabuto manages to hook the player in with its easy enough controls, likable characters and solid plot.
The first third of the game has you playing as a commander of the Meccaryns. The Meccaryns are a group of futuristic British troops who love beer and women and are on their way to the proverbial planet of beer and women. However, they get stuck in the middle of a battle for the Smarties’ freedom from the evil Sea Reapers. This really only means you get told what to do for the mission via hilarious Smartie dialogue, and then you do it. “Do it” usually translates to “destroy everything,” though, so expect lots of shooting. The Meccaryns also have the advantage of numbers as your ranks grow from a lone soldier to a squad of five (yourself and four computer controlled allies). This makes the battles fun and cooperative.
Following the Meccaryns weapon-heavy missions are the missions of Delphi. Delphi is the princess of the Sea Reapers who has decided to rebel against her mother and free the Smarties. She plays differently from the weapon centric combat of the Meccaryns and uses spells to dispatch enemies in her levels instead. Controlling her after all the fun you had flying around with the Meccaryns jetpacks and blasting through objectives feels like a step back at first, but Delphi has a dash control, which adds new dimension to her combat.
Finally, in the last third of the game, you get to do what the title suggests. You control Kabuto, a giant three-story-high monster that hates and eats everything. There is an odd sense of Zen, a feeling that everything in the universe is cyclical as you control Kabuto while he chows down on the Smarties. Yes, the very same Smarties you spent the previous two thirds of the game trying to save. Kabuto controls much like one would expect a giant horned monster to—a lot of punching and belly flops.
Regardless of which character the player is controlling, the landscape takes part in how the game is played. The rocky terrain that dots most of the game leads the player to frequently search for the easiest way to get atop the high ground. The following swoop down upon the enemy targets is very fun indeed, even with the outdated graphics the game sports.
The game play is solid, but the real appeal to this title is the humor. The Smarties’ dialogue is almost always over the top and absurd. An elderly Smartie will demand you assist him because the decrepit state of his genitalia has left him helpless. This then leads to a mission. There are many other oddly funny cut scenes as well. All in all, solid game play, diverse game mechanics and a funny story all make this overlooked PS2 game an oldie but a goody.
Final Fantasy turns out to not be so final
By Nick Elmer
January 31, 2007
In video games, there is no device more neutering to itself and its fans than that of the franchise. When a video game is amazing, fans will demand more. When fans demand more, video game companies assume they mean more of the same. Eight years later, we have eight versions of the same Tony Hawk game.
The developers of Final Fantasy have not allowed themselves to reproduce their past successes for 20 years. For better or worse, every new iteration of the series threw out the old game and started with a fresh slate in an attempt to make a new experience for the gamer.
No other Final Fantasy, ever, has deviated from its predecessors as much as Final Fantasy XII. It achieves this by taking some character leveling features of FF IX and FF X, outright removing random battles and adding a battle system change as jarring as when the series first switched from FF III’s turn-based system to FF IV’s Active Time Battle system.
As your characters level up, you gain License Points (LP) which can be used on the license board to purchase available magic spells, stat augmentations and the ability to equip certain weapons and armor. The system requires you to both own the spell or item, as well as have the character possess the license in order to use it.
The system sounds very intimidating, but once you start using it, it becomes second nature. The license board itself is very reminiscent of FF X’s sphere grid. A license becomes available only when it is adjacent to an already possessed license by that character, and the player has no real idea what license will turn up next. In this way, each license purchase follows with a mild commitment to purchase the newly available licenses later. It adds a nice layer of chance and personalization to each of your characters. It also makes sure you get to choose who the character will become. Instead of just a “white mage” or “warrior,” you can blend features to several different, previously static character classes to create perfect customizations for the player to work with.
No more random battles means you can now see every potential enemy off in the horizon before you need to face them. Not only does this remove the frustration involved in previous Final Fantasy games, but it also gives players a moment to prep their characters for the upcoming battle.
The battle system works. Ho boy, does it work. The implementation of real time combat had always sounded like the antithesis of all things that make a Final Fantasy game. Yet within a few hours of picking up the controller, the system feels more like the conclusion to the series. It feels as if every game beforehand had been leading up to this specific system. It feels that natural.
The game’s plot, a facet that is the foundation to any real role-playing game, is amazing as well. No longer do players take control of a group of misfits with coincidental connections to the evil force whom they must defeat to save the world. This time, the characters all feel like smaller cogs in a greater machine, making the story feel more realistic and like a true global conflict. There is political intrigue, strong personalities and a serious reduction on the sappiness many gamers have had to cringe through in previous Final Fantasy games.
Is Final Fantasy XII the greatest Final Fantasy game ever? Yes. Yes, it is. The game works on so many new levels, and feels nostalgic and fresh at the same time. Old school fans will be rewarded. New players will become hooked. The game works for everyone who enjoys the experience of developing their characters, the satisfaction of working with a battle system that is intuitive and customizable and the entertainment of an honestly good story. Play and be merry.
Backstory: After a summer of thinking about it, chose to try out being a vegetarian for the month of September, 2006. I asked The Collegian’s then Commentary Editor Sam Fran if I could use this month as a test to see whether or not my then roomate Joe would be able to figure this out and write an article on it. He did not figure it out.
By Nick Elmer
October 11, 2006
For whatever reason, my morals have finally caught up with me and I have decided to become a vegetarian.
However, I felt a test was first in order. Diving head first into something as intimidating as “no more cocktail wieners” without a safety net of some sort does not sound like the greatest of ideas. So I would give myself a trial period: no meat during the month of September. This way, if being vegetarian was not feasible, it would not feel like that much of a failure.
Also, it would provide a great device for screwing with my roommate’s head.
After I alerted everyone else in my life that I was going to be a vegetarian for the month of September, I told my roommate, “Joseph T. Pelone, there’s a mystery going on. You have until the end of the month to figure it out! If you don’t, I’m going to write an article about how stupid you are for the Collegian.”
The chessboard was set. Now it was all up to our opposing wits.
It is funny how two people can live together but not really notice big changes in one another’s behavior. Prior to September, I had a cheeseburger for every meal at Treetops. Yet, when my dinners started consisting of salads, plain cheese pizza and plates full of hummus (which Treetops does have), Joe did not raise an eyebrow. As I spooned the bean dip into my mouth he would only look mildly interested and remark, “You sure do like hummus.”
Perhaps I was not being fair to him. After all, hummus is delicious. So me devouring it would hardly raise any alarms. Yet, what about my numerous clues delivered to Joe?
One time I mentioned out loud, “I really need some protein,” to which he snarled and replied, “You eat meat.” On another occasion, I got two burritos, neither filled with my usual steak, or any meat at all for that matter. The familiar snarl followed by, “What’re you, a hippie?” Surely, Joe had an inkling what was going on when I looked him dead in the eyes one meal and started yelling “I like vegetables!” over and over. A skeptical and slightly worried look was all he had to offer me.
None of my clues seemed to help. I spent a whole month with the guy and he never did notice I had made such a large change in my life.
This experiment is a testament to how little we really bother to check up on each other. College is an extremely social experience for most people, but social does not always mean personable.
It is easy to focus more on the meeting and greeting, the nights out and the dinner table chatter with your fellow students. Yet, it is also important for us to stretch our empathic muscles and learn to delve into something else besides the social aspect of our relationships. These are our friends after all. Fair weather or not, it is good to know what is going on behind that face telling you what crazy thing happened last night.
We are all guilty of overlooking this sometimes. Maybe it is not conscious but we all sometimes ignore or dismiss the signals we receive from our friends. “They’re just having a bad night,” “He just needs to sleep it off” or “Wow, she’s got a serious attitude tonight” are some versatile examples of dismissals of what could be something wrong.
So this is a call to look out for one another. Pay just a little bit more attention to others and keep each other safe and happy.
As for Joe, he can go suck on a turkey leg for all I care.