Wunderbar!

(Editor’s Note:  I chose the title for two reasons.  First, the obvious is that Germans are the bad guys in this movie.  Second, it’s interesting how the 6 year old brain works.  Quinn watched the movie, made the connection that the Germans were the bad guys, and came out with “I’m part evil”.  When I asked him why, he said, “Well in  Wonder Woman, the Germans were evil and I’m part German, so I’m part evil.”  Can’t argue with that logic, I suppose.  Also, see Der Eier von Satan.)

I’ve been looking forward to the stand alone Wonder Woman movie since I heard the announcements.  Unlike many who saw Batman v. Superman, I didn’t think that she was the only good thing about the movie.  Sure, she was absolutely the best thing about the movie, but I was much more forgiving of the rest of the movie than others.  For instance, I didn’t think that Batfleck’s performance was the end of comic book movies as we know them.  Secondly, Mark Zuckerberg’s take on Lex Luthor was refreshingly different.  So, while not my favorite comic book movie by any stretch, it was a fun movie and a step in the right direction for the DC movie universe.

This is much more indicative of how I feel about the movie. Batman v. Superman starring Wonder Woman!

The Good

I will avoid my usual starting line that the best thing I can say about this movie is that it is “Wonder Woman”.  First, I don’t want to become too much of a cliche.  Secondly, the truth is that I don’t have that much of a history with Wonder Woman.  Sure, I’ve seen the Linda Carter series as a kid, but I never read the comic until recently and in no way would call myself a fan of the character.  Unlike Power Rangers and Guardians of the Galaxy, my interest in Wonder Woman as a character is a result of seeing a movie, not the other way around.  Therefore, it would be intellectually dishonest of me to start off with that statement.

Dang, that means that I actually have to do some work to write this article.  I have to research (read comics) the character (a kick butt woman who is quickly becoming a hero to women and little girls again) in order to flesh out an article (on a web page that I run for my own fun and entertainment).  Well, it’s a tough job (it’s not a job at all), but someone’s gotta do it.  In preparation for the article, I picked up the first two trades for the newest iteration of Wonder Woman from the DC Rebirth event (?)  Honestly, I’m not sure what to call it.  It’s technically just a reboot, but that doesn’t make sense because they’ve rebooted about a million times over the past few years.  Oh well, whatever it is, the stories have been decent from what I’ve read.

Also, from what I’ve read, the Wonder Woman movie was faithful to the comic character as she is interpreted now.  Even with my limited interaction with her, I do know that her origin (as far as becoming a character) is a little strange because her creator was into some weird stuff.  Being a family friendly page, I’ll keep it at that.  Lately, though, and over time, she’s been reclaimed and turned into the female icon that we know and love today.  I think, especially, with the weird time we find ourselves living in, she represents much more than maybe she would under less stressful circumstances.  Gal Gadot, the actress chosen to play the role, fits that perfectly.  I know she’s an actress and she gets paid to play pretend and dress up, but it genuinely seems like she enjoys the character and has fun with it.

Luckily, DC has started to turn the corner when it comes to fun in their movies.  They’ve pivoted from the “dark and gritty” hyperrealism of Christopher Nolan’s Batman and embraced that, at their heart, these are characters that spend most of their time as colorful drawings in what some consider to be kid’s entertainment.  Now, you and I know that comics are not strictly for kids, but we’ll let everyone else think that and underestimate us.  It’s worked for the last 40 years and we have been slowly taking over.

Wait, was that out loud? Ignore that. *ahem*

The Bad

The movie is too long and the final battle drags on seemingly forever.  The movie is yet another origin story.  However, unlike Spidey and Bats, who have been origined to death in their cinematic history, this is the Amazonians first feature, so I don’t mind them taking the time to introduce her.  Plus, the origin is handled well and respectful of the source material, as far as I can tell.  Again, I only know the newest Wonder Woman, so take my opinion with that grain of salt.  My main complaint lies with the second point.  The final battle just feels like it takes forever to reach a conclusion and there’s a bit of an unnecessary M. Night Shamalyan twist before it even begins.

I said earlier that DC seems to have started to turn the corner with their movies.  I enjoyed the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, as did many.  I despised both of the stand alone Superman movies.  I cringed, with my fellow nerds, as more and more information released for Batman vs. Superman and then just sort of fell into a state of numb acceptance and finally even nervous excitement.  Zach Snyder is directing?  *sigh*  Okay, fine.  Let’s see what he can do this time.  Ben Affleck is staring as Batman?  Who is playing Lex Luthor?  Um, wait, what?  They’re doing the Doomsday and “Death of Superman” story.  Well, okay, hopefully they don’t screw it up.

Then, the movie came out and there was honestly no reason for the trepidation.  It wasn’t a great movie, but it wasn’t terrible.  It was watchable bordering on okay.  I’ve watched it twice? Maybe three times?  Once with a friend, once with Christine, and then once with the boys.  With each successive viewing, I actually found myself enjoying it more.  It just wasn’t as Zach Snyder heavy as the Superman movies.  I know that some will look to this Wonder Woman movie as the one where DC turned the corner.  While that might be true in the long run, Batman vs. Superman is where the movies started to take a turn for the better, in my opinion.

What does this have to do with Wonder Woman?  Well, having been trained by Marvel, I sat through the credits for a potential Easter egg.  None came, but I did notice that Zack Snyder got producer or story writer credit or something.  His hands were all over that last scene.  I could just feel it.  He’s definitely less than during the Superman fiascos, but there is still a bit too much.

I know he’s a god and integral to the WW mythology, but come on. It’s just too much. Plus, I feel like the better villain from a storytelling angle could have been Dr. Poison.

The Ugly

I already started to discuss this in “The Bad” section, but Zack Snyder.  I don’t mean the man himself.  I have no idea if he’s actually ugly.  But, his storytelling needs quite a bit of work in my humble opinion.  How much is that worth seeing that I am a self-published author and he’s writing DC comic book movies?  Probably not much.  However, I’m one who can usually forgive and forget.  I’m also not generally very critical of creativity.

I just can’t get the taste of those Superman movies out of my mouth.  Also, I feel like, while he did okay with Batman vs. Superman and is showing some growth, this movie could have been damn near perfect with a more deft handling of the story and especially the finale.  Oh well, I’ll take the incremental improvements and hope for the best come the release for Justice League.

Again, he’s got the support of Ben Affleck again and, I just learned, Joss Whedon (due to a terrible family tragedy), so things can only get better.

Dice to Meet You

(Editor’s Note:  Yes, it appears that the “bad Dad” joke disease is back for this headline.  Hopefully my prescription comes through soon and it is only temporary.  Nothing is guaranteed in this current political climate surrounding healthcare, though.)

I don’t remember how Chris and I got involved in Dice Masters.  I think that it might have been something that we played in order to have a Marvel tabletop game to discuss on the podcast and we had already talked about Heroclix.  I might have it all wrong.  I might have picked it up and played it with the boys first.  However I became involved with the game, I enjoyed it very much.

I bought all of the starter sets that I could find.  I got a booster box of Age of Ultron that I opened with the boys.  We recorded it to put on our less than active YouTube page.  I organized our dice and cards, joined a online community, did several articles on the game, and then (in my true short attention span style), promptly forgot all about Dice Masters.

…and not so shiny objects, and shiny non objects…let’s face it. I’m easily distracted by, well, easily distracted covers it.

Chris and I have played a few games since.  I know because I remember digging through the tackle boxes that I use for storage of the dice.  The boys and I have also played one or two games, mostly with the starter packs, but we might have played a pick up game or two during the Christmas break that we also rediscovered Heroclix.  However, the interest has not been sustained like it is with Magic, or even the idea of Hordes/Warmachine.  I think that might actually change.

As I said, in anticipation of our podcast about all things DC, one of my recent endeavors was to get one of the more recent DC Dice Masters sets.  I lucked out and found a gravity feed of the set “World’s Finest” for a really good price.  A subsequent text chain with Chris confirms it because he exclaimed, “That’s a really good deal!”  The box sat on the floor waiting for the right time to be played and I started to worry that it might continue to be relegated to the back burner like my half of a box of Amonkhet that is sitting in the playroom unopened.  However, the boys kept me honest.  My youngest, especially, bugged me incessantly until I finally just gave in and we sat down to play a game.

After the “success” of our Pokemon event, I decided to try a rainbow draft. Only fitting that it happened during PRIDE month.

I had only heard about the rainbow draft online and from various gaming stores in the area.  Like an MTG draft, I’ve never actually been able to get out to participate in one.  However, they sound fun and we had 90 (maybe plus) packs, so this seemed like as good a time as any to test the format.  Luckily, I was able to introduce the boys to sealed format during our Pokemon event, so they were used to the idea.  We sat down, busted open some packs, organized the dice, and picked some cards.

I have to admit that I have almost no idea when it comes to the strategy of Dice Masters.  I know that there are often synergies between cards like there are with Magic, so I looked for them.  It’s funny because I was focusing on a Superman type deck, but I actually ended up with a decent Batman deck without even realizing it.  Now that I’ve seen what some of the cards can do (especially the Batcave card that I ended up with), I think I might be able to build a better deck.  Nevertheless, it was enough to beat Liam in the first game.

Aiden beat Quinn in their first game, but I’m not entirely sure that they played according the the rules.  In fact, I’m almost positive that they didn’t.  How do I know?  Well, I was looking at the play mat that we were using as a reference and Liam and I actually made a huge mistake by putting our KO’d characters in our used pile instead of our prep area.  That would have fundamentally changed the outcome of our game in major ways.  So, if two players who sort of knew what they were doing screwed things up, what does that say for the 6 year old who never played and the 10 year old who often plays for blood?

I mean, how hard is it? You just follow directions. Psh, we’re men! We don’t ask for directions!

Bedtime prevented us from finishing our matches (as we were rightly going to play best 2 out of 3 to decide the winners of each round), but from the sounds of it, everyone had fun.  Liam was a bit grumpy about losing.  He might try to deny it or write it off, but he has a similar competitive streak as me.  It lies just below the surface for the most part and when it bubbles up, the villagers run for higher ground.  Luckily, he kept it in check this time.  Because, I discovered our misplay the next day and we might just replay the game.  Ultimately it doesn’t make a difference because it’s not like it is an officially sanctioned tournament or anything.  Still, if I’m not honorable when playing against my own kids, what kind of person would I be?

Other than that, Quinn has been asking to play again daily.  He also wants to crack open the other packs in the gravity feed.  Aiden was less enthusiastic, but he’s had a bit of a “too cool” attitude lately regarding life.  I had so much fun that I texted Chris to tell him that I’d rediscovered my joie de vivre regarding the game and he said that he wanted to play some more whenever we are able to get together again.

For such a simple concept, the game is so much fun.  It is cheap.  You get 2 dice and cards for 1 dollar booster pack.  I got the gravity feed for 50 bucks, so that’s more or less half off.  It might be one of those boxes that was gerrymandered by pulling out the foils or putting together a box without rares or super rares.  I don’t know.  I wasn’t keeping inventory of the cards as we opened them.  The game is easy to learn.  Even though he was overwhelmed, my youngest was able to pick up the basic concept and hold his own pretty well for his first time playing.  There are hidden strategies in the game.  As I’ve said before, the best games are those that are simple on the surface, but complex once you start to learn the intricacies.  All of this boils down to one great game that I will try not to get distracted from for over a year again.

Oh, what’s this I see on the horizon? No, no! No more shiny objects.

Gods in the Palm of your Hand

(Editor’s Note:  2 Generations Gaming is back with a celebration of all things DC Comics over the next couple of weeks due to our enjoyment of the new Wonder Woman movie.  Next month is Spidey and Marvel!)

I believe I’ve mentioned the mobile version of MKX in one of my reviews recently.  Even if I haven’t, just know that I’m not overly impressed with the game.  Look, I know that it can’t be an exact port from the console versions to mobile, but I just felt that it could be so much more.  Against my better judgement, I fell for the advertisement in MKX and downloaded Injustice 2 for the phone.  I’ve heard good things about the console version.   However, as a cheap old gamer, I don’t have either of the current gen consoles required to play it.  Also, Kevin crushed my dreams by telling me that it would not be released on Steam.  Therefore, I have to wait until another price drop or two (and Chris told me that one is imminent!) until I’m able to play that version.

As a result, even though I’m deeply disappointed in MKX and Injustice 2 is done by the same studio, I took the chance.  Part of the reason is that Wonder Woman released this month and I had plans of doing a DC spectacular on the podcast and I needed some DC games to fill in the gaps on the web page.  Just like the movies (more on that Friday), there haven’t been many decent DC related games other than the Arkham series.  I remembered the Injustice name from the first game and, as always, hold out hope that things will get better.

Usually, I’m the guy on the left. Every now and then, I’m pretty sure that I’m standing in a puddle of piss.

Let’s start with my primary complaint about MKX.  Combat, frankly, is boring.  As I mentioned earlier, it is mobile, so it is unrealistic to think that an exact port is possible.  However, I feel they could have adjusted the game to take advantage of the unique nature of mobile gaming and make it more strategy based than just tap, tap, tap.  On a related note, I’ve found some additional strategy with the block mechanic, but even that is very limited.  Injustice improves upon that.

Adding to the basic/combo attacks and block maneuver, each character has a jumping attack, a crouching attack, a rush attack, and even a ranged attack.  Each of them is activated using a unique motion.  The variety of moves makes it feel so much more like an actual fighting game than MKX.  I will be investing much more time into Injustice 2.  I’ve already weaved it into my regular rotation as I wait for cooldowns to expire in MTG:PQ and Sim City.

They’re not lying. In addition to the fact that there is an actual moves list, the characters have unique animations for their different moves. It is quite an impressive improvement on MKX.

So, the move set is more complete.  Big deal.  Hey, as far as I’m concerned, it is a big deal.  That alone makes it work the price of admission.  By the way, that price is free for both games.  It’s a metaphor, okay?!  However, that’s not all.  There are several other reasons that Injustice 2 is a vastly superior game to MKX.  Let’s explore them.

There are more and a wider variety of game modes.  Alongside the campaign mode, arena (which is similar to faction wars), and resource missions (sort of a ladder style mode that is somewhat analogous to Shao Khan’s tower), there is also a robust story mode, operations, and something called challenges.  As of this writing, I’ve played all of the modes at least once.

I’ve only played through part of the story, but the cut scene that I watched was entertaining enough to keep me interested and I will probably play through more eventually.  Right now, I’d much rather play the other modes as they offer much better loot.  Area pits you against random teams put together by other players with the computer as your actual opponent.  Operations are a completely different way to play the game.  You choose one (so far the only ones I have unlocked are one) of your characters to go on a “mission” which awards various prizes depending on the mission.  It is not terribly interactive, but I appreciate the attempt at doing something different.  Plus, they’re part of the daily objectives that award you hero shards to unlock a new Wonder Woman.

For some reason, I’m all about Wonder Woman right now.

The last improvement that I will discuss is the concept of class advantage.  This may exist in MKX.  If it does, though, I’m not aware of it.  Injustice 2 makes it abundantly clear that even a noob like me can not only know about it but also have a basic understanding of the Rochambeau nature of the mechanic.

I probably could go on, but I’m blanking on other specific parts of the game that have impressed me.  It’s just overall a vastly improved game over MKX and very much what I expected a mobile fighting game would be without having any actual expectations the first time that I played MKX.  Does that make sense?  Probably not, so let me try to unpack it.

As we’ve seen, unpacking issues usually becomes a trip into dark and scary places.

I hoped that MKX would at least be a decent emulation of the console version.  In the graphics, animation, and sound departments, it was.  For everything else, it was hopelessly not.  I played the game because it kept me entertained for about 5 or 10 minutes (my usual attention span when it comes to mobile games), but I wished for more.  Having my expectations somewhat diminished by the disappointment of MKX, I went into Injustice 2 figuring that it might just be the same and I’d end up deleting it from my phone in a month or two to make room.

Obviously, that hasn’t happened.  I’m playing Injustice on a regular basis and it has now moved past Sim City as my second most played game after MTG:PQ.  I don’t see it surpassing that game as, no matter how much it frustrates me, I really enjoy that one.  I’m not sure what a game would need to do to become my favorite over MTG:PQ.  It is just a solid mobile game with that MTG flavor that I enjoy so much.

In closing, I really, really like the Injustice 2 mobile app.  There are a wide variety of characters with a complete move set.  Several game modes keep the game feeling fresh even if mobile isn’t exactly the best way to experience a fighting game.  It’s free and the virtual currencies are easy enough to obtain that I haven’t found myself considering a purchase at all.  We all know that I will usually make my 10 or 20 dollar purchase to support the developers, but I haven’t figured out what that will look like for this one yet.  So, download it and give it a try.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Rapid Fire! Random Thoughts 6/1

Welcome to another edition of Rapid Fire! Let’s get right into it, shall we?

-I saw Diamond’s sales numbers for last month.  While Marvel had the best selling book, Amazing Spider-Man #25, their other books just aren’t selling that well, no matter what they try.  Meanwhile DC is doing pretty well with the Rebirth titles. I’m sure the cheaper cover price helps.  My theory: New readers are coming straight from the movie theater and finding that Iron Man isn’t Tony Stark, Thor is a woman, Captain America might be part of Hydra, but not really, alternate universes up the wazoo, etc..It makes it hard for new readers to jump onboard no matter how many reboots they do. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t try new things but maybe it’s time to rein the writers in a bit.

-The first Hour of Devastation spoilers appeared today (accidentally?), we finally got our look at Nicol Bolas, who looks impressive. Steep casting cost but I have a rampy super friends deck, with a set of Oath of Nissa, some mana dorks and a set of Deploy the Gatewatch that might be the perfect home for him.  Once I do some testing I’ll post the deck list if it’s any good. Nothing but the best for you guys!

-Wonder Woman looks really good.  According to the reviews that I’ve read, DC might have a winner here. I’m looking forward to seeing it soon.

-I’ve been building up my PS4 collection lately.  Hidden Gem alert: Earth Defense Force 4.1. Buy it. Now. Go ahead, I’ll wait………….

It feels like a mix between Starship Troopers and 50’s cheesy sci fi flick. You choose between four soldier classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and shoot the bajeezus out of giant insects, giant mechs,and huge spaceships. It’s as nutty as it sounds.

-Since I’m on the subject of my PS4 collection, I also bought King of Fighters 14, which comes with a nice steelbook and is unplayable out of the box. C’mon! A 5gb download?! To be fair, once you suffer through the download the game is really enjoyable. Not quite as good as 13 but still decent in its own right.

-Despite your preconceived notions that we sit around all day playing games, we also both love to read (Shawn is a writer actually, look him up on Amazon. Do it. I’ll wait…….). Anyways,  I’m a fantasy/sci fi kind of guy and I recently just finished Brandon Sanderson’s Way of the Kings, which is the first book in his Stormlight Archive series. It was ridiculously good. I highly recommend that you give it a shot. Shawn recommended it to me and when I was at Barnes and Noble heading to the register with it, an employee stopped me to let me know that she absolutely loved it.  It’s the kind of book that immediately grabs ahold of you and the hours just melt away.

-I picked up a couple issues of the Batman/Flash crossover event,”The Button”.  Usually I’m not a fan of alternate universe storylines, but this one works and is really decent.

-Sadly, last Sunday was the final episode of River Monsters on Animal Planet. After 10 years of scaring people out of freshwater, Jeremy Wade is hanging up his fishing pole. I will miss the Monday morning River Monsters email thread at work which was mainly comprised of “What the hell did he catch?!” and “Why do people swim in anything other than a swimming pool?!?”.  The show was educational, entertaining, terrifying and fascinating.

-I bought a box Amonkhet and was lucky enough to pull a masterpiece (I believe they are called invocations in this set).  I got a Consecrated Sphinx, which books for $55. While I’m happy that I got one, I’m disappointed in the overall look of the Invocations. It doesn’t even look like a MTG card and the font is ridiculously hard to read. I ended up trading it for a Blood Moon and a Misty Rainforest.

-Finally, we are talking about possibly getting the 2 Guys Gaming podcast going again. We will keep you up to date as far as that goes.