Tag Archives: School's Out Time for More Gaming 2023

Portal 2 Appreciation


Yesterday, we threw Liam a party for his graduation. True to his heritage from me, he never really wanted a party. However, he went along with it. In spite of the awkwardness of having so many worlds collide, I think it went well. While sitting with his friends, one of them asked, “What’s your favorite game?” Another thought about it. My answer required no though. “Portal 2.” Then, I realized for all my talk about the game, I never wrote an article. So, join me for some Portal 2 appreciation.

For his part, Liam agreed. I think his friend, taken aback by my sudden interest in the conversation said something along the lines of, “Portal is a good game.” For me, it represents so much more. Those who read (and spider – Hey Sergei!) the page on a regular basis know that one of my main reasons for playing a game is the story. So, about that story.

Portal 2 Story

On the surface, it focuses around a faceless (unless you find a mirror or can portal yourself to see it) protagonist that needs to escape the crumbling infrastructure of a long dormant mega-corporation. Sure, a bit on the nose, but you write what society knows. Initially armed only with a pair of leg prosthetics that allow you to absorb the impact of high falls and a wittier than he thinks personal assistant, you strike off into the wilds of Aperture Science. Soon, you find your only weapon, a portal gun. Eventually, an old foe returns. Your former assisstant betrays you. Through it all, you wield only a gun that creates portals. Seriously. That’s it. I mean, it makes sense with the title. But, how can that possibly be interesting over an entire game? Well, more on that part later.

Well, one way they kept me hooked was the secondary story of Cave Johnson (the head and voice of Aperture science) and his assistant Caroline. The always fantastic J. K. Simmons voices Cave to perfection. But, honestly, Caroline (voiced by Ellen McLain) steals the show. We learn there exist “similariities” between her and the aforementioned former nemesis, GladOS. Unlike many things, if you haven’t played, I won’t spoil it any further. I want you to experience the story fresh like I got to. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

Portal 2 Gameplay

You start the game by waking up from a decades (centuries?) long sleep. Something went terribly wrong in the facility and all fail safes failed to keep people safe. Wait, why are we telling the story here? Doesn’t this belong up there? I’m setting the scene. Just give me this Portal 2 appreciation moment, please. You have no weapons. Similar to any other FPS, right? Well, sure, but the difference is, ultimately, you don’t fight anything. No demons, orcs, aliens, bug people, nothing. You run through the facility, just ahead of the chaos until you find a gun.

And, still, you fight nothing. Well, why the hell am I playing this game then? For me, that’s the beauty of Portal 2. WIthout any actual combat and very little peril, through the story and experience, they build a tension that forces you to keep playing to get to the end, survive, and excape this prison, frankly. They add science fiction elements of being able to create portals with the gun and ground up moon rocks and other mumbo jumbo that allow you to do superhuman things, too.

Portal 2 Puzzles

Like the primary story, Portal 2’s gameplay exists simply to allow them to build devious puzzles for you to solve. You must use your surroundings, your brain, and clues from previous puzzles to work your way through increasingly difficult levels. Many of the puzzles are straight forward to solve. But, the solutions take time and effort to put together sometimes. Some took me a good couple of hours to work out the actual solution. Even when I go back to replay the game (twice so far), a few of them give me trouble.

The Verdict

Obviously, there’s more to my Portal 2 appreciation. The game is visually appealing. Even with the tough puzzles, it takes less than a week to beat if you play a couple of hours each night. Since the game came out over a decade ago, you can get it for 10 bucks on Steam. Heck, every time I bought it (at least three times now for different systems), I got it in a bundle. The first time, it came with Half-Life 2, Portal, and Portal 2. Usually, it’s just the two Portal games. So, honestly, for a gamer like me, the Portal universe gives me everything I want from a game. Good story, simple controls, fun puzzles, and an overall great experience.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3: Great, Good, Decent


Like Across the Spider-Verse, we planned on seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 as a family. Christine likes these ones, too. But, Aiden ended up going with his girlfriend. Liam saw it with some friends. Christine and I got busy at the end of the school year and I thought I might have to wait until it came to Disney+.

Then, Father’s Day arrived. We usually don’t do much for Father’s Day. I’m not big on these, or really any, holidays other than the fall and winter ones. Those ones are awesome and worth celebrating. I just wish Halloween lasted longer like the others do. Anyways, I did what all dads do on their day. I fell asleep on the couch for an afternoon nap. When I woke up, Christine said, “Liam and Quinn want to take you to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 for Father’s Day.” Well, count me in.

The Decent

Not Enough Cosmo: Look, I get that not every character gets to be a main, or even primary supporting character. But, they shafted us with the criminally underused Cosmo. I appreciate the screen time and the dedication to the running “bad dog” gag. We also laughed when the three of us compared the dog to our own, Lilo. I just wanted more.

It’s Over, Man: Hey, I also understand that all things (good or bad) must come to an end. And, this ending works. It doesn’t mean that I have to be happy about it. I liked the Guardians from my introduction to them in the 1990s. I always gravitated to the oddballs back then and they were the oddest. When Gunn brought them back in the movies, I geeked out hardcore. Vol 2 shot to the top of my MCU list and it’s still top 5. So, yeah, I will miss the group going forward.

The Good

Adam Warlock: The Soverign started with big bad potential in Vol 2, became a gag when they actually fought, and then redeemed themselves in the post credit scene by introducing Adam Warlock. He, in true Soverign fashion, came onto the screen as a flash of indestructable light, then got punked and exposed as a mere child, and finally saved the day in the end. I laughed audibly when they referenced “The Creation of Adam” in that scene.

Gamora: I think I read somewhere that James Gunn disagreed with the direction of Gamora’s character. Maybe the article meant the Guardians in general. I don’t remember exactly. Respectfully, I disagree with Gunn. I liked seeing Gamora back. They made it fun by having her join the Ravagers, I’d like to think as a way to honor Peter’s heritage there. Then, she and Peter start to rekindle something and that just hits me right in the “warm and fuzzies”. Hopelessly romantic, that’s me.

The Great

Story: While not as engaging as the second movie, I still liked (well, “liked” is a stretch) learning Rocket’s story and connecting the dots. While I understand the High Evolutionary filled an integral part of the plot, I honestly didn’t see what all the hype was about. People kept comparing him more favorably against Kang from Ant-Man. I think they just wanted another reason to shit on that movie. Because, honesly, I didn’t see that the High Evolutionary was any better than Kang. In fact, as I watched the movie, I thought maybe they were setting him up as a version of Kang. Maybe that gets revealed in one of the next movies. I already said I enjoyed the Peter and Gamora story and the Cosmo “bad dog” saga had me in stitches. Finally, Kraglin working to keep the legacy of Yondu alive (complete with a “force ghost” scene) made me cheer. Overall, a great story.

Themes: Vol 1 dealt with family and how, in spite of what people say, you choose your family. Vol 2 focused heavily on father/son relationships and that’s solely why it holds such a high place in my rankings. This one, as much of the media I consume lately, brought to light past trauma and how we deal with that and (hopefully) move on. I understand that we all, well, understand more about the role that trauma plays in our lives and how toxic the effects of that trauma can be if not dealt with. I, personally, talked about some of that in Noob’s Book Club especially with the death of my father. So, thank you James Gunn (and, unrelated to this but still relevant, Alanis Morrissette) for helping me and my family heal.

The Verdict

I still like Vol 2 just a tiny bit more than this one. The focus of fathers and sons, with the song played just in case you missed the theme, made me focus on the kids in my own life and how I can be a better father to them. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, with it’s theme of trauma also came at a good time, but I’m actually on the other side right now, so it only made me feel better about where I am versus where I was.

Across the Spider-Verse: Great, Good, Decent


I gave a bit of a spoiler to this article about a week ago with my ranking of the Spider-Man movies. I tried to cause a little bit of controversy, but proved to be rubbish at doing so. If you didn’t read that article, I put Across the Spider-Verse at number 3 behind the first Spider-Verse and Far From Home. I heard some people say that they considered this one the best Spider-Man movie of all time.

Why don’t I agree? For the clicks? Well, if that’s true, then it hasn’t worked. Also, I never perform simply for the reaction. All of my opnions, even the rotten ones, I come by honestly. So, what caused me to show (little horse racing humor for ya) this one?

The Decent

To Be Continued…: I mentioned this one in my rankings. I also wrote about the other topic that I included in this section. But, we wait to discuss that one further. First, I understand that cliffhangers at the end of movies used to be more commonplace. But, I feel like we grew out of that and figured out how to tell coherent and cohesive storied to avoid that fate.

I mean, even Infinity War that left on one of the biggest cliffhangers of all time felt like it stood on its own as a movie. Plus, Endgame gave us a time jump that made the end of Infinity War feel more like an ending. Building the snap into Endgame and then giving the time jump feels uglier to me. This ending feels more like the Back to the Future series, which I love. But, the seamless transition between movies just gives off bad vibes.

The Decent, Part 2

Too Much Story: Obviously, this follows from (or leads to) the previous. Trying to jam The Spot (especially when they transitioned him to massive Avengers level threat) and Miles as the ultimate threat to the multiverse into one movie feels like a bit much. I understand that these stories are intertwined and that writing them can be difficult.

A bit of an aside here, but hopefully I pull it off. I talked all kinds of shit about Brian Michael Bendis with Chris when I heard that Marvel planned on rebooting the Ultimate line. I tried to comment a couple of times on their social media that I hope they leave out cannibalistic Hulk and incestuous Maximoff siblings, but they deleted them. So, I discussed it with Chris. I said, “All I want is a viable 2099 reboot and they’re bringing back the Ultimates.” Then, “I mean, Ultimate Spidey launched BMB’s career, so isn’t that enough hate for one lifetime?” Well, I come not to bury, but actually praise Mr. Bendis. I think, as the godfather of the serialized trade format in comics, he’d figure out a way to separate the two stories if they gave him a chance.

The Good

Supporting Spider-People: Seeing Spider-Man 2099 in the post credit scene made me more excited that I’m willing to admit in public. Like the movie before it, in Across the Spider-Verse, Miles finds himself teaming with others who lived a life very much like his. Spider-Gwen (more in a minute) makes a return. They also follow The Spot and pick up Spider-Man: India, Spider-Man (Hobart Brown, don’t call him Spider-Punk!), and our friend Peter B. Parker from the original. Because I love Hobie and Spider-Man: India grew on me, I wish they gave them move screen time and the team up potential with the players from the first movie is too enticing. Perhaps in the next movie.

Spider-Gwen “Controversy”: I said several times to my family, “People are big mad because the trans community identified Gwen.” Now, I just read that they banned Across the Spider-Verse in UAE becase of the presence of the trans rights flag in the movie. Mind you, none of this is discussed outright in the movie. There are some subtle mentions like the flag above (the only time I even noticed it in the movie), a discussion where Gwen talks about living two lives (which can be interpreted as her spider life, but I can see where the trans community identify it otherwise), and the fact that as the movie progresses and the stress gets to her, her color scheme reflects the trans colors very prominently. So, stay mad if you must, but I’m here for all of it.

The Great

The Spot Evolved: After saying they did to much with the two stories, I feel compelled to come back and explain myself a bit. Don’t get me wrong. I love both stories. There are things I’d do differently about the movie and both stories, but I’m a frustrated author blabbing on a blog and they’re all making one of the greatest animated movies of all time. With that being said, The Spot went from a literal joke at the beginning of the movie to a character that I legitimately feared by the end. When they revealed his final form and he spoke, I got chills. Maybe that’s why I’m so mad about this. I can’t wait to see the smack down that he delivers.

Right Place, Right Time: When Christine and I watched the Across the Spider-Verse trailer, we both cried. That’s not news. Getting older and watching your kids grow up changes your perspective and, apparently, you cry at the drop of a hat. Both of us sobbed at the Alanis Morrissette musical, too. Well, watching the movie and seeing a family on screen that genuinely loves each other (and finally getting that from Gwen and her dad) gives me the warm and fuzzies all over. I don’t give too much credit to pop culture (but I do give it credit when due) but I’m glad to have been able to experience all of this with my own family and share it with them.

The Verdict

So, if you think I “dissed” Across the Spider-Verse in my rankings, hopefully I redemmed myself here. I enjoyed the movie. Very much. As I said, there are things I’d change about it on a fundamental level. I watched the first one again the other day and I can’t say the same about that one. It is just a perfectly crafted story from beginning to end. Again, perhaps I’ll revisit my rankings after the next one.

Noob’s History with Fighting Games


I meant to write this article last Friday to cap off my celebration of the new fighting games coming this year. Then I wanted to post it Saturday and again yesterday. Saturday, I took a nap and then went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 with Liam and Quinn for father’s day. Look for the review on Thursday. Yesterday, Christine took me into Boston to see the Alanis Morrisette musical “Jagged Little Pill.” Harder to maneuver that one into our aesthetic, so I’ll just say it was very good and I highly recommend it. And, so, on Monday, you get Noob’s history with fighting games.

Unlike my other histories (maybe I’ve only written one, Mario?), I won’t be traveling through the actual chronology of these games. I’m 47 years old and things that happened 20 years ago feel like they happened 3 years ago. Plus, Covid happened 3 years ago and that feels like a lifetime ago. So, my internal clock broke some time ago. As a result, this will read more like a list of games that I played and some stories about them.


They hyped the shit out of this game. Loking back, I remember now that they even got the guy who played Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat as one of the spokepeople for the game. They promised ultraviolence and a way to improve your fighter by collecting powers and storing them via password. Then, the game never came to my arcade. I lived life thinking I imagined it along the lines of the Mandela effect. Then, i found a ROM of the game and played it a few times on MAME. Jesus, what a piece of shit.

Super Smash Bros.

I live with the shame of being terrible at Super Smash Bros. Moreover, I have no idea how to even play the game. I don’t know what the percentage means, can perform no moves on cue, and spend most of the time just hoping that people falling off the cliffs will kill them and give me the win.

King of Fighters

Unlike many of the games on the list, I have no idea when I started playing King of Fighters. I know it most likely happened like all of the others on the list and I met the game while waiting for the lines at Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter to calm down. Something about this game caught my eye. And, yes, I was a teenage boy, so it’s the thing you’d figure it would be. I was a Mai main.


I never fell for the console wars. Likewise, I refused to pick a side during the Virtua Fighter/Tekken split between fans. With that being said, I preferred Virtua Fighter, espeically after Virtua Fighter 2. But, I enjoyed getting my ass handed to me in Tekken. I just returned the favor if they ever became foolish enough to challenge my Shun in Virtua Fighter 2.


I actually went through a phase where I preferred Darkstalkers to Street Fighter. Essentially a reskin of the game with horror figures, I liked the graphical style better in Darkstalkers. That all changed when I discovered Street Fighter Alpha and they brought this style to Street Fighter. Because, realistically, Street Fighter has the most polished fighting engine out there and everything else pales in comparison.

Virtua Fighter

I discovered Virtua Fighter when both the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter machines got buried underneath long lines of quarters. And, so I started playing Virtua Fighter. Similar to my experience with Street Fighter, I found the strategy of the game appealing. Also, no fireballs or dragon punches. The legitimacy of the fighting, no matter how actually illegitimate it might have been, brought me great joy. I peaked in the series with Virtua Fighter 2 and my drunken master Shun. I was unbeatable with that crazy old bastard.

Primal Rage

This game became my main after I bored of Mortal Kombat 2. Plus, the mall in Monroeville where I rode the bus after school got one of the massive screens and cabinets for the game. That made the dinosaurs seem that much larger than life. When the update hit (yeah, if you’re annoyed by waiting a few hours for a game to update online, imagine waiting weeks until they released a chip that needed to be installed in the game) and we got combos and finishing moves, I asbolutely lost it and deposited quarter after quarter until I got them all. Blizzard’s brain punch is still the best.

Killer Instinct

The game promised combos. And, wow, did they ever deliver. This game ushered in the era of mega combos and dimishing returns on the damage of those combos. Plus, the unique design of many of the characters kept me coming back for more. I started as a Glacius main, but switched to Spinal once I got better at the game.

The Verdict

This obviously represents only a portion of Noob’s history with fighting games. As I searched for videos from Primal Rage, it reminded me of another game that I played, Eternal Champions. Kevin was crazier than me and purchased all of the systems, the 3D0 included. Maybe I will do another version of this when Mortal Kombat releases. Look out for Noob’s History with FIghting Games Part 2.

Street Fighter 6 Early Impressions


On Monday, I gave my early impressions of Mortal Kombat 1. As I wrote in that article, I talked about how Chris and I discussed getting the gang back together for old time’s sake. I suggested talking about Mortal Kombat 1 and Street Fighter 6 Early Impressions as a soft landing spot. We both played the games from the very first in both cases. Well, not Street Fighter. Nobody played that one.

But, you get the point. Once Chris learned that I played Street Fighter, we put it into our regular rotation for a time during the monthly nerd nights. Looking back on it, we always lamented that once a month seemed like too long to wait. Now, I for one, would kill to be able to meet once per month. The cruel irony of fate. I work less and also, somehow, we have less time to hang out. Oh well, self pity over.

How Do I Write This Thing?

When I first heard about Mortal Kombat 1, I immediately Googled to see if the game actually existed. When I heard about Street Fighter 6, I went about my business. I might have texted Chris about it, but it certainly made less of an impact on me. And, here comes some nerd shame admission that we are so good at around here.

I haven’t played a Capcom fighting game since Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I haven’t enjoyed a Capcom fighting game since Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I played Street Fighter 3 a couple of times and never played Street Fighter 4 or 5. Actually, looking back on it, Chris and I might have played some Street Fighter 5. If so, it’s forgettable. I bet that’s the main reason that this game made so little impact on me. I played Mortal Kombat 9, X, and 11 and enjoyed every single one of them.

Humble Beginnings

Okay, let’s start over and see if I can find my love for Street Fighter like I did with Mortal Kombat. First, my very first memory of the game escapes me. I remember distinctly reading EGM (the property still exists) or some other such magazine to figure out tips and tricks to get better. I learned about how the fighting system stores moves and by chaining together basic attacks with a special attack, you create an unblockable combo move. Now, it’s coming back to me.

Ryu and Ken were always my favorites. But I liked Sagat for some time, too.

I started to convince myself that Street Fighter required more skill and it briefly became my game of choice. Because you played on only one quarter when you won back then, I wanted to be able to get as much out of my coin as possible. I think the same article also introduced me to the concept of zoning and counter moves. I never got to “professional” level, but I definitely put together several 5 to 10 game win streaks in my day.

Street Fighter Alpha 2

My glory days for Street Fighter came during the Alpha phase. The 2nd one came at a time when I found myself getting back into video games. I lived alone for a brief time when I moved to Massachusetts. I needed to fill the time not spent working. So, I bought comics, Magic the Gathering cards, and a PlayStation. Fun fact: I promised myself after buying the PlayStation that I’d never pay full price for a console again. I kept that promise to this day.

I loved the art style of Alpha and the new characters and combo system. Because this game came out before the advent of at home high speed internet, I played mostly by myself and never got a chance to play against anyone other than Christine. While fun, it never truly captured the glory of those days in the arcade.

The Verdict

I gave very few Street Fighter 6 Early Impressions in this article. I think that because I have two friends who play the game and Aiden also enjoys playing Mortal Kombat against his friends that I have more invested in that game. I still like the aesthetic of Street Fighter and get excited by new game announcements. But, it just doesn’t hook me like MK.

Mortal Kombat 1 Early Impressions


If you read this page for longer than a couple of articles, you know that I identify as an old man. Those who fear the reaper always say, “No way, you’re young!” While certainly true by modern standards, my aching back, expanding belly, and distinct memory of the first Mortal Kombat 1 release says otherwise.

My friend Kevin and I took the summer after our senior year of high school and traveled to live with his father. The trip started as a week, then expanded to two weeks, and may have been a month, possibly two by the time all was said and done. Well, we spent the summer more or less the same ways we would have at home. We went to the comic book store (it was the summer of the “Death of Superman”!) and visited at least one arcade.

Humble Beginnings

I always use that as all of my introductions to new things. Because, honestly, as the Noob of All Trades, they truly classify as Humble Beginnings. This one, especially, warrants the title. Surveying the games in the arcade, we laid eyes on a most peculiar sight. A man, who sort of looks like Jean Claude Van Damme, executes a leaping kick on the side of the cabinet. On the front, in the marquee, Mortal Kombat. Yes, with a K.

And, honestly, to this day, I struggle to spell Combat correctly.

We both put quarters into the machine, maybe about 5 bucks each, but probably less, and button mashed our way to the occasional mistake move when we stumbled upon something that resembled the motions in Street Fighter 2. Otherwise, we marveled at the blood and the mysterious “Finish Him” that ended every fight. Remember kids, this is before phones. Hell, this is before I even knew the internet existed. And, so, we needed to find a copy of EGM or some other such magazine that gave us the fighter’s moves. But, that came after some MK sensei rolled up to the cabinet and blew our minds with Sub-Zero’s fatality.

We absolutely lost our shit.

The Golden (?) Age of Reboots

It all started with Star Wars. Well, at least that’s when I noticed that a certain movie looked and felt very much like another certain movie released 40 years before. I even wrote an article that mentioned the similarities between the movie. Well, none of it really clicked until the Scream movie released in 2022. As far as I know, true to form, they coined the term “Requel”.

So, armed with that, I took a more critical look at some of the new movies. I recognized the story from Creed. I heard echoes of the past in the Jurassic World series that came to a logical conclusion in the most recent movie. Then, I saw an article for the newest Mortal Kombat game.

The last two Mortal Kombat games I played were called Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11. Therefore, logically, the new one in the series is named Mortal Kombat 1. Wait, is that right? That can’t be right.

Mortal Kombat 1

I searched to make sure that I read right. Because all of the old games get released over and over on every single new system, I needed to make sure that it wasn’t just a new release of the original game. Heck, they might have even updated the graphics for the game. But, nope, they named the new game MK1.

During my text conversation with Chris, I said, “I can’t tell if this is an actual reboot or just a joke by Ed Boon at the expense of all the recent reboots.” He said that he thought the former. In the end, I agreed. Then, the trailer hit and left no doubt.

The Verdict

Speaking of the trailer, look for a reaction video from me regarding that trailer. Then, after the game releases, look for my first impressions and then the final review of the game. Finally, Chris and I talked about getting back together to record and my idea for the first show back is this game and the new Street Fighter. Hope we can get it done before Germany, but more likely next month.

Spider-Man Movies Ranked


I planned to release another episode of Ready Player One today. However, we have a surprise 40th birthday party for my brother in law. Besides, I started reading the chapters on Thursday at soccer and then never finished reading or writing up my summary and reponse notes. And, so, to make it up, I wrote my Spider-Man Movies Ranked list. Buckle up, there might be some controversy here.

Spider-Man Movies Ranked

10. Amazing Spider-Man 2 – I think we rewatched this one to get ready for No Way Home. Not as bad as I remember it, but definitely not good. Like Clone Wars, it will take something truly terrible to usurp this one.

9. Amazing Spider-Man 1 – Sandwiched between a good Tobey Maguire performance and the politics that ended that series and the rejuvenation of the character with Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield never stood a chance with me. And, to this day, he remains #NotMySpiderMan. Granted, like Doc Ock, Sandman, and Electro, No Way Home went a long way to rehabilitating him with me. Hell, I even cheered when he got redemption by saving MJ. All of that being said, though, I still refuse to watch these movies.

8. Spider-Man 3– We all remember this one. At the very least, we all remember the emo dance scene. This one also introduced Venom and referenced the Spidey No More story. I know that Raimi wanted to tell all these stories and got a bit steamrolled by the studio. Given at least one more movie, he could have spread them out a bit better. But, trying to do too much will get you in trouble every time.

7. Spider-Man 2 – I’m gonna be honest. I don’t remember this one at all. Oh, it’s the Doc Ock one. Well, I think that they made the Doc Ock character so much more relatable and enjoyable in No Way Home and that’s how I will remember the character from now on. Being forgettable lands you in this spot.

6. Far From Home – My least favorite of the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies so far. I liked the Mysterio angle, but the story just dragged for me and it feels like they were going a little too hard in the wrong direction with this one. I’m glad they altered the course in No Way Home and brought back fun loving Spidey.

5. Homecoming – Spider-Man in the MCU? Finally? When I saw Holland as Spider-Man, that cinched it. He played the role perfectly and he is #MySpiderMan. As I wrote above, with Miles, he brought hope and joy back to the role. The two Amazing movies explored too much of the dark side of the character and the comics have followed suit in some ways. I don’t want dark and brooding Spider-Man and I’m glad they took Ben Reilly to task in the latest movie.

4. Spider-Man – Really, this might be a tie with Homecoming or Homecoming is actually slightly above this one. But, I wanted to give this movie its due credit. I’ve mentioned more than once, but I grew up in a time when Hollywood didn’t give comics any credit. Granted, the old guard still bangs that drum. But, the comic book movies coming out today owe a great debt to Sam Raimi and the amazing job that he did bringing Spider-Man to the big screen in a respectable way.

3. Across the Spider-Verse – So, why don’t I agree that this one should be number 1? While I agree that it is an amazing movie, here’s how I framed my argument earlier. I just think they tried to tell too many stories in this one. Also, “to be continued…”? I know we used to do that a lot with movies, but I feel like that era is gone. If they split the stories better, I think they could have wrapped up with the one major story (Spot) while concluding the Miles as a major multiversal threat in the next one. Like Aiden said, I’m sure once the other one comes out, it will feel like a more cohesive story. And, who knows, maybe I’ll revisit this after that

2. No Way Home – Those of you who think that Across is the best are having a bit of a conniption right now. What can I say? I got caught up in nostalgia just like everyone else. Plus, between Miles and Holland’s Spider-Man, they brought hope back to him and made him the hero that I remember growing up with. Leave the brooding for other heroes. I want my Spidey happy and healthy in spite of his hardships.

1. Into the Spider-Verse – I know this might be a controversial opinion. Some people, including some in my own home, consider Across the Spider-Verse as the best Spider-Man movie they’ve seen. Aiden and I were just talking on the way to pick up his girlfriend and I said, “I think I like the first one better.” He sighed, agreed, and said, “I didn’t want to say anything yesterday, but I do, too.”

The Verdict

As with all of these things, this Spider-Man Movies Ranked list is subjective and subject to change. If you disagree, I’d love to have a conversation why. I still have to have the talk with Liam about why he likes this one so much. I tend to think it’s recency bias, but I love having these discussions.

Cover image taken from Polygon.

Hearthstone Audiopocalypse Check In


Blizzard started releasing mini sets a couple of years ago. I rarely, if ever, play any of the cards from the set. But, they offer them for gold, so I always buy them. Hearthstone Audiopocalypse proved to be no different. I bought the set like clockwork.

However, I can’t tell you a single card from the set. As a result, I can almost guarantee that I won’t play a single card from the set. Nevertheless, I got the idea this week to catch up with the various card games that I play. I wrote the Marvel Snap article on Monday. Today is Hearthstone and over the weekend, I plan to tackle the MTG Lord of the Rings abomination.

New Mechanics

The challenge of writing an article like this is that there are a limited amount of cards, so I can’t really write it like my traditional great, good, decent or even cards I love. Thankfully, Hearthstone often offers fun and new mechanics regularly.

Hearthstone Audiopocalypse brings back a fan favorite in dual cards. These allow two different classes access to the same card. These allow for classes to share identities and gives you more flexibility when building your decks. I wish they produced more of these cards. But, then, it would ruin the special sauce that they bring to the game.

Priest/Rogue example. You know I picked this one for the stupid pun, right?

The other major addition to the game from this mini set is “remixed” versions of cards These gain an additional effect while in your hand. Reminds me of the cards from an older set that did the same. But, those cards gained an effect when drawn. These ones gain a different effect each turn. So, you can wait it out and try to roll the effect you want. Removes some of the undesirable RNG of the game and puts some of the power back into your hands.

The Verdict

Overall, I don’t expect this mini set to change my game play in any significant way. But, I bought virtual cards for virtual currency, so my induction into the Matrix Hall of Fame should come in the virtual mail any day now. If I have more time later, maybe I’ll come back during the slow days of summer with a more full featured review.

Note: Single image taken from Hearthstone Top Decks. See the cards.

Marvel SNAP in the Spider-Verse


I last wrote one of these articles in February. I think I knew at the time that they planned to release a new “season” every month. Somehow, March, April, and May went by without me writing anything about the game that last year I called the mobile game of the year. Well, better late than never. And, honestly, what better time to rejoin the game than Marvel SNAP in the Spider-Verse?

Heck, my wife just texted us all in the group chat not to make any plans for Friday because she wants to go to the movies as a family. I felt bad reminding her that I got invited to one last Conant graduation for the seniors this year. Aiden also wrote that he made plans with friends for Friday. Oh well, she said, there’s always Saturday. The movie she wanted to watch? Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

New Locations

I wrote a quick blurb about the four new locations in Quantumania. Since they only released two new locations this time, I have some more room to discuss each one. As we will see with the card release, movement is the theme of this season. This location fits right in with that. I have a move deck that I play for fun sometimes. Hitting this location with a Multiple Man gives me the warm and fuzzies all over.

Now, this thing just looks bananas. If you get this one as the first location, that’s five turns of things getting moved. I suppose you can play around it by focus firing on this location, but that leaves the other two wide open unless you have cards that make cards like Sinister. I get the feeling that before long, unless I’m playing my move deck, this will be one of those locations that I grumble about when I see it.

New Cards


Image 1 of 4

On Reveal: Transform the highest-cost card in your opponent’s hand into a Pig, keeping its Power and Cost.

Okay, I admit to not understanding the functionality of the Spider-Ham card. Does it remove all effects from the card and just retain the power and cost? If so, then it acts like a polymorph of sorts and I can see that being a fun way to mess with your opponent. Silk plays like a reverse Juggernaut and can work to free up some space if you painted yourself into a corner by placing too many cards in one location. Ghost Spider is going right into my move deck for sure. And Spider-Man 2099 feels a bit too expensive, but with Ghost Spider can really put a crimp on your opponent’s late game.

The Verdict

Marvel SNAP in the Spider-Verse feels a bit less than previous updates. Four new cards matches up with what we’ve seen in the past. But, as I said to a friend, unless they start releasing different versions of cards, they have to be running out of characters to add to the game. Then again, I just Googled “How many Marvel heroes are there?” and it gave me the answer of over 80,000. So, there’s that.

The update only provides two new locations compared to the four from Quantumania and three from the Nimrod seasons. However, the last two updates only gave two as well, so maybe they run out of locations far before characters. One big update that I don’t care all that much about but other players do according to this article, is the Conquest mode. Who knows? Before long, I’m sure I will join you all there, SNAPers.

Marvel Comics May 2023: Great, Good, Decent


The first week of June closes with Marvel Comics 2023. Having already reviewed TMNT and Spawn and then DC Comics in the previous articles this week, I looked forward to finally getting a chance to sit down with my favorite publisher. You know me. I’m an unabashed Marvel zombie to the end. MCU included.

As the banner up above reads, school is out in a couple of weeks for all of us. Granted, Christine, Liam, and I are going to Germany for three weeks. But, I hope to keep content consistent until then and maybe run some classic articles while we are gone. When I went through the archives to remove the malicious code, I read through the articles. As I said to Chris, “We have a unique voice. Wish more people heard it.” Well, on with the reviews.


X-Men #22 Jerry Duggan – Writer, Joshua Cassara – Artist. Chris kept telling me how good the Hickman run of X-Men was. I should have listened at the time. A couple of weeks ago, I spent an ungodly amount to get all of the paperbacks to get caught up on the MCU level of homework needed to read these books. I still haven’t had a chance to do so. Until I do, I can’t properly rate X-Men in Marvel Comics May 2023.

WTF Did I Just Read (Or: Can You Don’t?)

Amazing Spider-Man 25: Zeb Wells – “Writer”, JRJR – Artist. I felt compelled to add a new category after reading this train wreck of an issue. I mean, what the hell is this story? It reads like the bastard child of a terrible Moon Knight issue with the worst of one more day. I saw several people online griping about this one, but you know me. I don’t trust randos on the internet. Also, I try to give all creative pursuits a chance. Well, I gave this one a chance. Bury it in the desert with E.T.


Thor #34: Torunn Gronbekk – Writer, Juan Gedeonwith Sergio Davila – Pencilers. In Avengers, Carol says, “Thor used to be more fun. He’s been through a lot.” I liked the beginning of Aaron’s run of Thor. Then, he got weird on the same level as Snyder and his Dark Metal nonsense. Now, Thor just reminds me of the fun character he used to be and that makes me sad.


Avengers #1: Jed Mackay – Writer, C.F. Villa – Artist. Another day, another Avengers #1. This one sees Captain Marvel as the new chairperson. She recruits Stark, Thor, Panther, Captain Samerica, Vision and Wanda. As introduction issues go, this one is fine. I like Aaron’s Avengers (for the most part), so we’ll see how Mackay puts his stamp on the team.

Venom #19 Al Ewing – Writer, Roge Antonio – Artist. After last month’s Marvel article, I texted Chris to tell him how much I enjoyed Venom. I compared it to Ewing’s Hulk run. This issue read more like a traditional beat em up, but the last page seems to be setting up for some more of Ewing’s classic horror story that he showed in Immortal. Come back next month to see if he delivers.


Fantastic Four #700: Ryan North – Writer, Iban Coello – Artist. In the DC article, I wrote about how underwhelming a couple of the landmark issues were. No such let down here with the Fantastic Four. Marvel’s first family is in good hands. This story comes with the fun and frenetic pace that the FF is good for. Plus, they commissioned a sweet wrap around cover again and got me to buy three copies of this book. Shrewd.

Guardians of the Galaxy #2: Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing – Writers, Kev Walker – Artist. I come into this knowing nothing about Grootfall other than Groot is now some sort of cosmic being on a similar level as Galactus. The Guardians, as they often are at the beginning of stories, scattered to the winds and need to come together to face this galaxy spanning threat. You all know I love my Guardians from their awkward beginnings (even before James Gunn became the “defining” voice) and they seem to be in good hands right now.

She-Hulk #13: Rainbow Rowell – Writer, Andres Genolet and Joe Quinones – Artist. People, predictably, backlashed online against the She-Hulk series. I watched just enough to know that it contained the fun and funny voice of the comics. I want to finish it to see how it ended, but who has the time to keep up with all of this. On the topic of this run of Shulkie, I absolutely adore it.

The Verdict

Overall, Marvel Comics May 2023 comes with some strong issues. Granted, ASM leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that I won’t soon forive Marvel for assassinating my boy so badly, but the rest of the issues read like the characters from my youth. For someone recently discovering how cool nostalgia is, that feels great.