Geekscape http://www.geekscape.net podcasts, news, features Tue, 02 Sep 2014 01:18:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 podcasts, news, features Geekscape no podcasts, news, features Geekscape http://www.geekscape.net/_wp_/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://www.geekscape.net TV-G Geekscape Games Reviews ‘Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair’ http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-games-reviews-danganronpa-2-goodbye-despair http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-games-reviews-danganronpa-2-goodbye-despair#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 01:13:44 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80204 Back in February, a somewhat obscure text adventure game about a group of high school students who were forced to kill each other in exchange for their freedom ended up becoming one of the biggest surprises of the year so far. So much so in fact, that we raved about it in our review, to the point where I’d still call it one of the year’s best games even months later. One of the biggest strengths of the original Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, was its creative take on the visual novel, implementing elements of action games, rail shooters, and dating simulations to become one of the finest titles in its genre.

With that said, the obvious follow up question is; “What’s next?” How can a sequel to a text adventure, by which is fairly limited in what how much it can innovate, manage to feel like an improvement only seven months later? And yet, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair does just that, finding a way to succeed in nearly every area while finding multiple ways to stay fresh. And in case you were wondering, this version is every bit as dark and twisted as you would expect from the series.

20140228112722Monokuma is back, and is as big of a troll as you’d expect.

This time around, players find themselves in the unfortunate position of controlling Hajime Hinata, one of a group of 16 students from the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy. Despite not being able to remember his talent, Hajime and his classmates are each considered “Ultimate” students, who are at the top of their respective fields. Whether it’s the “Ultimate Cook”, the “Ultimate Princess”, or the “Ultimate Yakuza”, each student serves as a beacon of hope for the future of the world. Only, things aren’t as they seem. After being seemingly abducted and held on Jabberwock Island in the guise of a school trip by their teacher, a talking stuffed rabbit who goes by Usami, it isn’t long before the trip gets out of hand. While the goal of the vacation is to build up their friendships and spread hope, it isn’t long before Monokuma, the antagonist of the original, commandeers the island and changes the rules to his liking. Now, there’s only one way off the island; kill one of your classmates, and get away with it.

In its opening moments, Jabberwock Island feels instantly familiar to anyone who explored Hope’s Peak Academy in the original. The majority of the game play is split up into two sections, which are Daily Life and Deadly Life. In Daily Life, Hajime traverses the islands in both the first person perspective of the first game in more enclosed spaces, or a new 2D side scrolling perspective when moving between the larger areas. These sections mostly consist of interacting with the characters to move the story forward, or participating in Free Time events, which allow Hajime to get to know his classmates better in exchange for Hope Fragments. With a little talking and a lot of bribery, fully exploring each character uncovers special abilities, while granting the means to buy extra ones by purchasing them with the fragments.

20140227154505Solving crimes is rewarding as always.

But the island can’t stay tranquil forever, which is where the Deadly Life sections take center stage. When a murder is committed, the cast goes into full investigation mode, using the on screen cursor to uncover evidence, (called Truth Bullets), to figure out what went down and who committed the crime. Once everything possible is uncovered, a Class Trial is initiated, where the surviving students participate in a Nonstop Debate. Like in the original, the characters discuss the case while the player has a small selection of evidence to choose from. Various key phrases are highlighted, which may contradict a piece of evidence you hold. After sifting through the distractions caused by White Noise that look to block your shot, Hajime must take aim and shoot through these contradictions using the right line of logic. Solving the mysteries end up feeling far more rewarding this time around, since they come off as more complex with less hand holding. With this sometimes backfires since the linear nature of the game can make it hard to guess which piece of evidence to use and when, even if you have the right idea, especially when the answers can be really farfetched at times.

In between the debates, new mechanics have been added while old ones have been changed, but not all of them for the better. For example, the standard debate leaves room to agree with blue statements, (which was only featured in the post game in the first title), showing that you don’t always have to be argumentative to be successful. Another original mechanic that changed in the sequel is the Bullet Time Battle, which has been replaced with Panic Talk Action. The rhythm themed button tap mini game now asks us to hold and release the X button to the beat of the music, with the length of time the button is held deciding how many statements are shot down, or how many bullets are reloaded. While an interesting change, it feels like one that wasn’t necessary, filing itself in the category of innovating for the sake of it. Still, these sections are still fun to play, which is the end goal regardless.

Yet, we can’t talk about needlessly changed mechanics without discussing the new take on Hangman’s Gambit. The first game had us selecting letters off of the screen to spell out words that would reveal the next clue. Now, we have combine at least two of the same letter before we can add them to our board in order, which admittedly has a fun, fast paced shooter game feel to it. While the concept sounds harmless at first, there are times where the right set of letters takes forever to crop up, or in later stages, where so many letters spawn at once that you take unfair amounts of damage. I’m sure some of you might be ready to fire off about how I shouldn’t fault the game for sucking at it, but it’s definitely not my fault when opposite letters spawn on top of each other, resulting in instant damage before they’re fully on screen. If the third game can bring back the old way of doing things, that would be great.

20140227172635Hangman after those funny cigarettes.

Even if Hangman’s Gambit is worse for wear this time around, I’ll gladly take the trade off when you consider how much Closing Arguments have been improved. My biggest complaint about the game play in the first game was how these comic book panels that piece together the crime were far too vague, forcing you to guess on the sequence of events based on small pictures with very little context. Now, not only does highlighting the blank spaces and the options at your disposal provide text clues saying what they mean, but each option is provided in increments instead of being distributed all at once. This results in losing the overwhelming feeling of having too many options while giving players a more balanced shot at choosing the right options.

20140227154101Closing Arguments went from the biggest flaw of the original to the most improved feature in the 2nd.

No longer acting as passive observers to your crazy arguments, classmates can now refute your statements as well, triggering a Rebuttal Showdown. When someone dares question your sound logic, things quickly turn from a shootout to a sword fight, allowing players to slice through their words using the touch screen or control pad in order to stay in favor. Once the key word comes up, cutting through it with the right Truth Bullet will put them in their place.

20140228123213Fighting for supremacy in a clash of words.

In one of the stranger additions to trials, the Logic Drive starts a snowboarding mini game that gives Hajime the means to connect logic strings together by sliding down the right paths. Yep, I just said there’s a snowboarding mini game in a text adventure. Surprisingly, the controls, physics and challenge is fairly strong, making them enjoyable to play. I’m sure I’m not the only one opposed to seeing this idea fleshed out more fully, because I would actively look forward to playing these sections as they came.

20140227165340Logic snowboarding is the next big sport!

The best part, is on top of all these changes and improvements, the biggest draw of the game has stayed the same, which is its brutal cutscenes, dark sense of humor, and undeniable charm, all wrapped up in a somewhat innocent presentation. Both the old and new songs bring the emotions the game is trying to draw out of us to life, while the 2D cardboard cutouts and pink blood amplify the ironic cuteness of a death game arranged by a sadistic teddy bear. Movies have a change in animation, providing some moments that are made of pure nightmare fuel, although these scenes are overall weaker than the first game.

This is furthered by the feeling that the new characters just aren’t as good as the ones in the first game. While the innocent charm of Sonia Nevermind, the strong impression Nagito Komaeda leaves, or Teruteru, a special kind of pervert character who’s nose will bleed for literally anyone, will stick with you, other characters like Nekomaru Nidai, Gundham Tanaka, Mikan Tsumiki and Kazuichi Soda range from annoying, to grating, often coming off as caricatures rather than people you’re supposed to get attached to. Not that the game doesn’t have a knack for tugging on the heart strings, making my jaw drop many times over, but while the cast of the first game was definitely eccentric, they all had a level of humanity that this cast mostly lacks. Not to mention that the game expects us to suspend our disbelief to absurd levels at some points, but these moments are eventually explained in a satisfying way, saving the story from a bit of ridicule.

20140224120638Characters like Mikan bog down the narrative, making it hard to care about them.

After about 30 hours or so passes and the main game is completed, Danganronpa 2 still has so much to offer. Like the first game and its School Mode, Island Mode lets Hajime focus on building friendships, both by using the 100+ presents that can be purchased with unlockable Monocoins to round up any remaining Hope Fragments, or using Trip Tickets to go on dates with them for expanded endings. In between all the lovey dovey stuff, a mining mini game asks the team to build certain items in exchange for more Trip Tickets, all while managing each person’s HP, the island’s cleanliness, and the amount of each item needed for a successful build.

In addition, the game does a complete 180, unlocking Usami’s very own mini game which pits her against the evil beasts that inhabit the island. Playing somewhat like an action platformer, Usami can jump on enemies, circle around them to create magical attacks, or unlock stronger equipment which allows her to progress through six short, yet entertaining stages, which include multiple difficulty levels to keep things interesting.

The crazy part? Between hundreds of unlockable gallery items, hidden Monokuma plush dolls scattered throughout the island, (which replace the magical coins that pop out of the environment), a virtual pet simulator that houses over half a dozen pets based on how many steps Hajime takes and a freaking in game novel, and Danganronpa 2 comes close to almost having too much content. This isn’t even all of the new content and improvements the game provides, but for the sake of not wanting to make this a novel of my own, we’ll spare the details on everything included, and leave some surprises for the game. Can we have too much of a good thing? Apparently not!

So after thinking that it would be near impossible to further the visual novel genre more than the first Danganronpa did, Goodbye Despair does so, and then some. While it doesn’t surpass its prequel in every aspect, it knocks most of what it tries to do out of the park. With a wide variety of game play mechanics, constant experimentation, (with mixed results), tons of distractions to give your sleuthing brain a break, and more unlockables than you’ll ever need, and you end up with a game that is a near perfect representation of what thinking outside the box can result in. What we’re left with is a sequel that takes risks instead of resting on the laurels of its successful predecessor, and is better off for it, making Danganronpa 2 one of the best games in its genre… And by extension, a strong candidate for one of the year’s best games. What’s more hopeful than that?

tl;dr

+ A return to form for the Hope’s Peak student body, providing deeper mysteries and more of a focus on exploration with its sick sense of innocent, self aware humor intact.

+ Features like in game digital pets, full fledged side games and new core mechanics, (like snowboarding logic), are bold inclusions that pay off in big ways.

+ Storytelling and cutscenes that will stick with you long after you’ve put the game down.

+ An insane amount of unlockables that will keep completionists playing for hours.

- Deeper mysteries result in moments where illustrating your point is hard to do, resulting in having to guess which similar piece of evidence is the right one.

- Certain story moments are too far fetched, which is made worse by a third of the cast ranging from annoying to insufferable.

- Not all changes were for the better, with a frustrating new take on Hangman’s Gambit.

Final Score: 4.5/5

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PAX Prime 2014: My Hands On With ‘This War Of Mine’, The Most Important Game Of Our Generation http://www.geekscape.net/pax-prime-2014-my-hands-on-with-this-war-of-mine-the-most-important-game-of-our-generation http://www.geekscape.net/pax-prime-2014-my-hands-on-with-this-war-of-mine-the-most-important-game-of-our-generation#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:44:21 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80228 This War of Mine is quite possibly the most important game of our generation. It touches on a subject that hasn’t been touched before in gaming. “In War, not everyone is a soldier”.

I got to the 11 Bit Studios booth shortly before my meeting with the head writer, Pawel Miechowski. Another 11 Bit Studios employee got me set up with the game and told me Pawel would come over and meet with me. I started up the demo and was greeted with a randomly generated start. The game is a side scrolling, point and click style pseudo-adventure game. You can choose a survivor character and move them around the map. Double clicking will make you character run, but that will create a bubble of sound around them that enemies will react to. There are points of interaction around the map that you, well, interact with: Wardrobes, doors, cabinets, piles of rubble, various types of furniture, and a workbench.

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I was greeted with three survivors, each with their own stats. One was an expert salvager,  one was a “good cook”, and another was handy. Of course, they each also had negative attributes assigned to themselves. One of them was slightly sick, while everyone else was tired and hungry. When left alone, the characters would talk with each other about the trials and tribulations of the war. I quickly got the three survivors starting on bettering our house. Clearing rubble, opening doors and cabinets and building some furniture. The day is spent working on your shelter, while the night is spent scavenging. When the clock ran out, it was time to prep my refugees for the night.

I was presented with the night time menu. Each character had to be assigned a job. The three options I had right off the bat where “Sleep. Guard. Salvage.”. I assigned one to each, and then went to the salvage map. Here I could choose between locations that I could scour for materials. I went out to a run down building and proceeded to go from room to room. This is where the atmosphere really shines through. The building was foreboding, and frankly kind of scary. Graffiti adorning the wall outside was a bit…bothersome.

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Going from room to room, slowly I was so engrossed with what I was doing. The roar of the convention center seemed to vanish as I was focused on getting supplies for my shelter. As I crept through another room, a red circle appeared on the screen. I automatically assumed it was an enemy, and the circle represented noise coming from the upper floors. This is where I really took note of how the player saw things. Everything outside of the players view was blurred and darkened. As I went up to a door to look through the keyhole, a cone of clear vision spread across the room. Walking up to ledges and holes in the ground, a small beam of the players vision shot down through to what was below. As I got to the last room, the noise ultimately turned out to be a small animal, obviously trying to survive like we were. I found a letter in a dresser from a distraught husband, lamenting about his wife’s passing. He noted that they buried the handgun she’d used to kill herself in the back yard. Backtracking through the house, a new item of interest appeared on the ground. The broken gun frame. Something I could fix with gun parts, if I had enough.

Back at the main shelter I dropped off the goods I found, and recanted the nights goings on with the others. One of my survivors had gotten sicker, and another extremely tired. Things were starting to get a bit overwhelming. I crafted a bed with the little wood I had, and found some herbal medicine for my sick character. The day went moreso the same as the first day, and as the night approached I didn’t realized in depth this game was going to get.

Night came and I picked the character who had the least afflictions and sent him to a house. Upon getting to the house I immediately saw that it was occupied. I slowly crept around the inhabitants. Stealing the little supplies they had. I started to feel bad about it, which I guess was an intended effect. I made my way back up from the basement to the main level, and hid as the man of the house walked by, and this is where things got heated. He noticed that the front door was open, and started a thorough search of the home. My hiding space was soon discovered and a fist fight broke out. I defended myself, but had to kill the man. The fight alerted the wife, and she came at me with a knife. Again, I had to defend myself. Immediately I wasn’t that upset with the situation, now I could explore the house freely but my character was fairly hurt. Upon getting back to the shelter my actions at the house became apparent.

War

Upon entering the shelter, my character went on a tirade about how bleak the entire situation was and started to break down about having to murder some people. He now had the “Sad” and “Depressed” status affliction, and the other characters in the home talked about how bad everything had become. It was at this time Pawel came over to see if I was ready for my interview but looking at my face he said “You looked pretty engrossed, I will let you play some more. Come find me when you are ready.”

I played for a few more days and nights. It felt like I was making one step toward progress, and two steps back to a bleak reality. My characters were starving, hurting and falling apart.

Interview

Then back up with Pawel and started asking him my questions.

He told me that the idea of the game came from an article called “One Year In Hell”. The article recounted the tale of a man surviving the Bosnia war from the 90′s. It really showed how in war, it’s not just soldiers on two sides fighting. The people that were just living a normal life up until that point were the biggest victims. After reading the article, him and his team at 11 Bit did a lot of research on the authenticity of the piece.

They wanted to make a game that was very mature, and that focused on serious mature themes. The horrors of wars was an obvious choice. They wanted the game to be fun but still stay grounded in reality. They made the conscious decision not to have the soldiers be from any specific army, making the combatants as ambiguous as possible.

Each character that you can play as will be extremely different from each other. When I asked him how things like murders will affect different people he said “Each character is different. Not only from their abilities, but how they react emotionally. Our AI system is EXTREMELY advanced, and probably one of the most unique features from our game. When someone has to commit and act they don’t like, they will react differently than the next. Things like books, or building a radio from parts is a great way to bring their morale up.” He went on to say that the game has it’s own language. How everything comes together, be it how characters interact with each other or the environment. It has it’s own voice.

The war will eventually end in the game, it’s not an endless survival game. Pawel said “But you won’t know when it will end. Because in the real thing, people ACTUALLY surviving have to survive under the idea that the war will never end. So we wont tell you when it will end, and it will change each time, but it will eventually.”

Final Thoughts

The little I got to play of this game sold me. I sat at the 11 Bit Studios booth for what felt like only a few minutes, but turned out to be almost an hour. Talking with Pawel, I learned how passionate the guys at 11 Bit Studios are about this title. Coming from Poland, a country that has been plagued with war for centuries, they wanted to tell the Western world a story that is rarely told. It touches on the subject of war and doesn’t pull any punches. When playing, and my characters were revolted by the actions they had taken, I was taken aback. Usually in games, when you do something you aren’t “supposed” to do, you either have to reset or get a slap on the wrist. At the most you are penalized points. In This War of Mine, your characters are DEEPLY affected by it and it will carry on with them for a while.

This game is on point to become one of the most important titles of this generation. It grabs you by the collar and forces you to see the side of war that is rarely mentioned.

This War of Mine is slated to be released by end of year and will be available on PC, OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android.

War2

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Hiro and Baymax Bring ‘Big Hero 6′ To ‘Disney Infinity 2.0′ http://www.geekscape.net/hiro-and-baymax-bring-big-hero-6-to-disney-infinity-2-0 http://www.geekscape.net/hiro-and-baymax-bring-big-hero-6-to-disney-infinity-2-0#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 06:00:03 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80194 Until now, there’s been a general divide between Disney and Marvel since the two entertainment giants become one. With the upcoming film release of Big Hero 6 however, this will mark the first true collaboration between the two entities, with Disney making a full on animated film that’s inspired by a relatively unknown Marvel property. Naturally, we knew that there would be some form of representation in the upcoming Marvel focused game, Disney Infinity 2.0.

That representation comes in the form of Hiro and Baymax, who show off some of their abilities in their reveal trailer below. With Hiro’s ability to attack with the earth below him, and Baymax pulling his weight with long range energy blasts, the two characters look like they’ll fit right into the action packed potential of the Toy Box. Even more interesting, are the shots of Hiro riding on his robotic companion. Is that an ability unique to them, or will all larger characters be able to carry smaller ones? Oh, what I wouldn’t give to watch Hulk give Captain America a piggyback ride.

As far as we can tell, everything looks on track to make these two into welcomed addition to the cast. Let’s just hope they don’t turn out like the Frozen characters in the first game, where they ended up as bare bones additions that lacked many of their personality traits from the film. That’s what happens when video game characters are developed before the source material is released.

From what you’ve seen, does it look like Hiro and Baymax will be added to your collection? Disney Infinity 2.0 is set for September 23rd, with the Big Hero Six figures releasing sometime in the fall.

<cite>www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME-kFP8zqck</cite>

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The Empress Descends! Margaret Confirmed For ‘Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’ http://www.geekscape.net/the-empress-descends-margaret-confirmed-for-persona-4-arena-ultimax http://www.geekscape.net/the-empress-descends-margaret-confirmed-for-persona-4-arena-ultimax#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:40:09 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80019 With nearly every important character from Persona 3 and Persona 4 included in the upcoming fighter, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, it was only a matter of time before The Empress made her appearance. Starting the week after release, Margret, the Velvet Room Attendant from P4 will make her fighting game debut as downloadable content.

While every other character in the game is limited to one Persona, Margaret will command multiple ones, including Cu Chulanin, Yoshitsune and Ardha on top of eight Persona Cards. To say that she has the deck stacked against her opponents would be an understatement, (pun kind-of intended), and anyone who faced off against her in the core RPG series knows how dangerous she is. How will this play out in a fighting game arena? And what will happen when she comes face to face with her sister, Elizabeth, who abandoned the position that Margaret currently holds? We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out.

Unlike the previously announced characters, Adachi and Marie, Margaret WILL NOT be free at any point, but will be available for purchase after the free period for the first two downloadable characters passes. The price point hasn’t been revealed yet, but if it’s anything like Arc System Works’ previous fighters, there’s a good chance it can get pricey. Plus, I’m sure the DLC announcements aren’t done yet, since there’s still one major character who’s missing from the fight. Any guesses?

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax will arrive on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 30th.

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‘Disney Infinity’ Is Now FREE For Wii U! http://www.geekscape.net/disney-infinity-is-now-free-for-wii-u http://www.geekscape.net/disney-infinity-is-now-free-for-wii-u#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:15:45 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80192 Did you miss out on Disney Infinity when it released last year? Was it a tough sell to invest so much money in a new IP knowing that there were so many toys that go with it? Or did you have the Wii version and wanted to upgrade? Well, if you wanted a taste of what all of the commotion is about, the game is now available as a free download for Wii U. That’s right… free!

Featuring the Toy Box right out off the bat, players will be able to create their own worlds, challenges and games based on the in game tools. The catch? The game can’t be played without the figures, so while you can stare at the icon on the home screen, you won’t be able to play it without at least one figure. If you like what you play, you’ll also be able to buy the game’s Play Sets, which are equivalent to a campaign mode.

While this is a cool way to introduce new players to the concept, it feels kind of empty when you consider that the game can’t be played without the base. To my knowledge, the accessory is only available as part of a Starter Pack, unless you can find some local chain or a Craigslist seller that would part with the individual piece. Otherwise, the only way this would be worthwhile is if people who skip straight to the upcoming sequel get curious about the first one. Still, free is free, right?

Will Disney Infinity be added to your download list?

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Watch The ‘Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’ FreeLC Fighters In Action With This Adachi And Marie Trailer! http://www.geekscape.net/watch-the-persona-4-arena-ultimax-freelc-fighters-in-action-with-this-adachi-and-marie-trailer http://www.geekscape.net/watch-the-persona-4-arena-ultimax-freelc-fighters-in-action-with-this-adachi-and-marie-trailer#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:10:36 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80190 We reported over the last few months on the reveal of two DLC characters that are coming to Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the sadistic detective, Adachi, and the mysterious tsundere poet, Marie. Though we’ve seen various screenshots, we finally have our chance to see them in action.

Adachi uses Magatsu Izanagi to fuel his insane need for destruction. From the trailer, it’s clear that it will be used in a completely different way compared to Yu’s standard Izanagi. With Marie, her weather effects help her manipulate the field, allowing her to do damage with her giant bag, not to mention her Persona, Izanami. But is there more to her relationship with her Persona as meets the eye?

Both Marie and Adachi will be available as free DLC for the first week, starting on September 30th. Two free characters are a hard thing to come by these days, so any fighting fans or Atlus enthusiasts should jump on the deal. Until then, check out the trailer and let us know if you’re planning on picking the game up!

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‘Hyperdimension Neptunia ReBirth;2: Sisters Generation’ Is Confirmed For A Worldwide Release! http://www.geekscape.net/hyperdimension-neptunia-rebirth2-sisters-generation-is-confirmed-for-a-worldwide-release http://www.geekscape.net/hyperdimension-neptunia-rebirth2-sisters-generation-is-confirmed-for-a-worldwide-release#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 04:30:52 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80202 Well, that didn’t take long.

Right off the heels of ReBirth;1‘s release, (which we called one of the best RPGs in years), Idea Factory has confirmed that Hyperdimension Neptunia ReBirth;2: Sisters Generation, will be coming to the Playstation Vita in early 2015. The even better news? It will be available in both physical and digital formats to North America and Europe, giving the latter region access to the physical version.

Like its predecessor, ReBirth;2 is a remake of one of the Playstation 3 releases, tackling mk.II this time around. Starring Nepgear, Uni, Rom and Ram, the little sisters of the first game’s CPU’s, characters from the original will also make an appearance to support the new cast. Including Compa, IF, and the promise of many others, this continuation of the original is sure to show how Gamindustri has changed since Neptune’s adventure, all while bringing a sense of familiarity to those who played the first game.

With the new ability to bring a fourth party member into battle, this change is sure to bring stronger enemies to compensate for the extra person on the field, opening up numerous possibilities. It’s safe to say… We’re excited!

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PAX 2014: ‘Never Alone’ Hands On http://www.geekscape.net/pax-2014-never-alone-hands-on http://www.geekscape.net/pax-2014-never-alone-hands-on#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:46:51 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80220 When the trailer for Never Alone came out earlier this year we at Geekscape were blown away. More specifically I was blown away. Living in Alaska all my life, it was really refreshing to see the Alaskan Native culture as the catalyst for a narrative driven game.

Well wandering around PAX sixth floor this year, I was elated to see the team from Upper One Games and E-Line Media had a proud booth setup. I walked up to the booth and introduced myself to the head of PR for E-Line Media, Elziabeth, and I got the full behind the scenes rundown of Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna).

The team behind Never Alone worked closely with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) to make sure the game was as authentic as possible. They made numerous trips to the Alaskan North Slope to visit tribal elders to show them the product they were working on. The game follows an old Inupiat story about an endless blizzard that is ravaging a small village. In the story a small child decides to go out into the storm to find the source of the storm to stop it. The main character in the story never had a gender, so the team chose to go with a girl, as females are severely underrated in gaming. The art direction is HEAVILY influenced by Alaskan Native culture, and the aesthetic is incredible. You can tell the team working on Never Alone truly cared to represent the Alaskan Natives properly.

Sitting down to actually play the game and I was instantly hooked. You take up the role of Nuna and her Arctic Fox. If you are playing alone you can switch back and forth between them, but the game features full on single screen COOP. Gameplay is simple and each character has their own perks, the fox has the ability to see spirits and use their help in the environment. I played through the short demo they had available and was instantly sold on the game. The gameplay was easy to pick up, but the puzzles were challenging enough that it took multiple attempts at some of the later ones.

Never alone comes out on November 4th on the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC for $15. I highly suggest anyone who is a fan of games like Journey to pick this up. It would be a great game to introduce non-gamers to.

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Geekscape Interviews: ‘As Above, So Below’ Star Perdita Weeks http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-interviews-as-above-so-below-star-perdita-weeks http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-interviews-as-above-so-below-star-perdita-weeks#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 16:14:38 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80144 Just before I entered the heavenly gates that were the doors to Power MorphiCon in Pasadena, I had the chance to talk about the dungeon to hell with Perdita Weeks, the star of the new horror film As Above, So Below! How much fun did the smart, talented, and indeed lovely Ms. Weeks have playing a badass? And what was it like down there?

Scarlet is a strong and daring individual. She’s Indiana Jones meets Ellen Ripley to me. So, very plainly, how much fun did you have playing a badass?

It was so good. It was so fun. I knew it was going to be fun when I read the script. Yeah, it was like, I’ve kind of always wanted to play Lara Croft, unfortunately Angelina got there first. [laughs] I just thought, [it was] really fun, [she was] really strong, leading a group of individuals down to the catacombs. It was brilliant. Hard, but very, very fun.

PERDITA WEEKS (SCARLET) AND BEN FELDMAN (GEORGE) IN AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

PERDITA WEEKS (SCARLET) AND BEN FELDMAN (GEORGE) IN AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

Yeah, I picked up on the Lara Croft thing a little bit too. The movie was kind of like a video game to me. But you filmed it in the actual catacombs! With the physical challenges in those tiny, dark hallways, being terrified must not have been farfetched, was it? What was it like shooting down there?

The first time we went, the first time we went before shooting was just like a walk around. The Dowdles showed off which spaces we’d be using specifically. And it was a little daunting, more just because I’ve never shot anywhere that was going to be so logistically difficult. It was very tough on the crew, having to get all their cables down there, incredibly heavy equipment, and lighting luckily wasn’t really an issue, because the only lights were from our head helmets and the one from the camera. But because of the style of shooting, the found footage aspect, and the fact that all six of us would essentially be having cameras, it meant the crew had to completely hide away, all the time, because you never knew what would be caught in the frame. But it was more incredibly exciting and novel, to be one of the few people who ever shot down there. There was maybe a good forty to sixty of us. It was quite a bonding, unifying experience actually. I mean, you spend that long, you know, with that many people, it was a tight-knit crew by the end of it. You know, we felt like we had really gone through something. By the time we got to shoot in the sound studio in the last week we were like, this is heaven! There were toilet facilities, and coffee! [laughs] It was hardening, but it was really good for the film. We all felt quite so proud of ourselves after it. Some people had a couple of … head injuries, minor.

Oh, wow.

Yeah, ceiling, the height, it changes all the time so it was incredibly unstable. Lots of times, lots of members of the crew had just gone smack! Into kind of like a sticking out rock. It’s a mad, mad place to be in for the entire film. It was bizarre. Probably more bizarre than it even looks in the film. It was scary in the film, in reality it was kind of hysterical. Like, what are we even doing here? Is it even going to work? But, it was great. It adds to the kind of excitement.

SCARLET (PERDITA WEEKS) CRAWLS THROUGH THE CATACOMBS OF PARIS IN AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

SCARLET (PERDITA WEEKS) CRAWLS THROUGH THE CATACOMBS OF PARIS IN AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

Your terror came out genuine, it was amazing to watch. You put on an excellent performance down there.

Thank you!

In addition to the actual setting and challenges that came with it, you’re also filming a found footage movie. Very verite-like. Was there any learning curves in acting in those spaces with that kind of genre? As opposed to, for example, shooting The Tudors?

Oh, yes! But it was great! You have a lot more energy, because you’re never off. You never know when the camera is gonna capture you. It brings you that much more closer. For each sort of scene, if you can call it that, because in the film the action is so continuous, and lots of time we’d have ten or fifteen minutes of continuous action. I mean, it was incredibly, absolutely exhausting, but brilliant. We would get to do one scene, all day. And at the end of it we’d change, every single take it would be different. But you know, they were using continuous takes, and every time the DOP would do something different. So you never knew really what was going to happen. It was kind of just about reacting to all that. There was six of us there, all of our performances are changing all the time, so it was a great acting experience, actually. Especially when you’re doing, you know, people give horror a bad rep, but my God, it’s hard work. For any actor. It’s very testing. I’d recommend it to any actor. It’s very hard work but very, very satisfying.

Scarlet is burdened by family guilt and seeks redemption. She’s rebellious and she never hesitates. She immediately dives into a situation. Do you think she’s trying to prove something to the world, or do you think she’s trying to prove something to herself?

I think the thing with her is that the thing she really isn’t interested in is fame, or money, or even success to some degree. My whole idea for her was that, she works as a professor in order to just make enough money, and she’ll stop the very second she’s got just the right amount to go and complete this mission. And the thing with her, the reason she is so, as you say, has no hesitation to do anything … is she’s got nothing to lose. That’s what I love about her. Characters like this just don’t come out often. Characters with absolutely nothing to lose as the one complete driving force. It was a complete dream to play because it makes every decision that you have to make incredibly easier. You know exactly what their purpose is. And what their motivation is. You know, with her, I honestly didn’t think she’d mind if she died doing this. Because, there is no one around. She’s cast off maybe the one person who maybe did care about her, and she doesn’t have any family left. It was the only thing that mattered to her, until the point where she realizes she’s put other people in danger. And that’s her saving grace. You know, she really doesn’t want to endanger anyone else. You see it in the beginning of the movie when she goes to Iran. It’s the only thing that matters. If she dies, she dies. There’s no one who would miss her.

She was fearless and absolutely one of my favorite characters in recent history. You played her well.

Oh, great! [laughs]

Film Title: As Above/So Below

One last question. Because this is Geekscape, we are nerds here. This is a bit of a fun question. The catacombs are of course terrifying and ancient. If you could be any superhero and go back to the catacombs, and face off all the demons, what superhero would you be?

Oooooooooh! Golly, I’m not very up on my superheroes! Who would I be? Hmm, oh! Well I don’t know if she’s really a superhero, but what was the name that Alan Cumming played like in X-Men, he was a little black sort of–oh, no! I’m gonna be, oh, what’s the name of that… Rebecca Romijn-Stamos played in X-Men and Jennifer Lawrence played now?

Mystique!

MYSTIQUEYeah! That would be cool. It’d be handy! You know, to just blend in and whatever. And also, she’s a good ninja.

As Above, So Below is in theaters now. Head here for our review, and here for our interview with director and writers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle!

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The TV World Is Getting Darker Thanks To The Villains Of ‘Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’ http://www.geekscape.net/the-tv-world-is-getting-darker-thanks-to-the-villains-of-persona-4-arena-ultimax http://www.geekscape.net/the-tv-world-is-getting-darker-thanks-to-the-villains-of-persona-4-arena-ultimax#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 06:00:17 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80187 It wasn’t too long ago that a new batch of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax trailers arrived, but we already have a new set for us to get hyped over ahead of its September 30th release date. This time, the villains of the game are showcased, bringing the dark side of the TV world into focus.

Starting with Sho Minazuki, he’s the only character so far that lacks a Persona. Still, his hard hitting twin sword abilities more than make up for this fact, keeping the pressure on his opponents before they can get their offense going.

 

Yet, just because Sho doesn’t use a Persona doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one. Named Minazuki, his alternate form is a separate character, which utilizes his sword skills in conjunction with his partner, making the two even more deadly.

 

And finally, Shadow Labrys returns from the previous game, carrying over her unique trait of having her Persona on the field at all times. Vicious multi-hit combos and essentially two opponents at the same time make Shadow Labrys insanely dangerous, which should go without saying. Have you seen that face at the top?

 

Expect more information, trailers and reveals as Persona 4 Arena Ultimax gets closer to release date. Have you decided on your main yet?

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‘Disney Infinity 2.0′ Releasing A Toy Box Starter Pack Featuring Stitch And Merida http://www.geekscape.net/disney-infinity-2-0-releasing-a-toy-box-starter-pack-featuring-stitch-and-merida http://www.geekscape.net/disney-infinity-2-0-releasing-a-toy-box-starter-pack-featuring-stitch-and-merida#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 05:35:17 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80196 Since it was announced, the folks behind Disney Infinity 2.0 have assured us that while the focus is definitely on bringing their Marvel properties into the game, core Disney characters and owners of the original portals would not be forgotten. Details were scarce until now, when the Toy Box Starter Pack was officially announced.

Packaged with an Infinity Base, Stich, Merida, and Toy Box Game Discs featuring themed missions for both, the package will retail for $59.99, which is $25 cheaper than the Marvel starter set, albiet with no campaign missions and one less figure. Still, with limitless possibilities with the level creator, and the ability to download stages formed by the online community, this bundle still promises to be well worth it.

For those who have no interest in the Marvel pack, (wherever you are), or just want to play around with the new Toy Box without having to buy any new figures outside of the dozens you might own from the first game, then this might be a good buy. Still, I’m a little disappointed that it doesn’t seem like the Disney characters will receive any large scale campaign missions. It seems like these are reserved for their super hero bretheren.

Does the Toy Box Starter Pack sound like something you would pick up this holiday season? The Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack is scheduled for a September 23rd release, with the Disney pack set to follow on November 4th.

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The Creators Of ‘Tekken’ Bring ‘Pokemon’ To Arcades With ‘Pokken Tournament’! http://www.geekscape.net/the-creators-of-tekken-bring-pokemon-to-arcades-with-pokken-tournament http://www.geekscape.net/the-creators-of-tekken-bring-pokemon-to-arcades-with-pokken-tournament#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 05:15:11 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80185 Remember that image from late last year featuring Lucario face to face with Blaziken in a 3D space? After months of speculation, and even our own E3 predictions expecting as much, The Pokemon Company has officially unveiled Pokken Tournament, a 3D fighting game that is heading to Japanese arcades in 2015!

Developed by the team behind the popular Tekken series, Pokken Tournament will promises to bring that fighting pedigree to the world of Pokemon. With Lucario, Blaziken and the king of the Starter Deck, Machamp, there are still questions that are left unanswered. Will there be more than just fighting types included? When will it be released? And when, (not if,) will the game receive a console release, especially outside of Japan?

It might be a long time before we find out the answers, but for the time being, we can watch the game’s reveal trailer to our heart’s content. Check it out below, then tell us who you’re hoping makes the jump to the fighting game world!

<cite>www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-WqRkiLe1A</cite>

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Inaba’s Greatest Get New ‘Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’ Trailers http://www.geekscape.net/inabas-greatest-get-new-persona-4-arena-ultimax-trailers http://www.geekscape.net/inabas-greatest-get-new-persona-4-arena-ultimax-trailers#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 05:00:12 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80139 With Persona 4 Arena Ultimax about a month away, and most of the new characters revealed, it’s about time the returning cast gets a share of the spotlight. Featuring the key members of Inaba’s investigation team from Persona 4, Yu Narukami, Yosuke Hanamura and Yukiko Amagi take the stage to show off the new tricks they’re bringing to the fight.

Starting with Yu, using his sword skills and his electric Persona, Izanagi, this easy to pick up fighter uses fast, hard hitting skills to deal big damage.

 

Second, Yosuke and Jiraiya take advantage of their wind skills to move around the field in confusing ways, keeping opponents guessing. If those don’t work, his ability to inflict status effects will definitely help.

 

Lastly, Yukiko and Konohana Sakuya bring the heat with their fire skills and ranged abilities, with the unique trait of being able to make her attacks unblockable.

 

This is just a taste of what the game will offer. If you’ve missed the previous trailers, check them out here. How excited are you for the next chapter in the Persona story? Let us know!

 

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First Wave Of Amiibo’s Consists Of 12 Characters, Will Launch This Holiday Season http://www.geekscape.net/first-wave-of-amiibos-consists-of-12-characters-will-launch-this-holiday-season http://www.geekscape.net/first-wave-of-amiibos-consists-of-12-characters-will-launch-this-holiday-season#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:33:26 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80175 Briefly: I haven’t purchased a toy in years, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t going to buy every single one of these.

Back at Nintendo’s Digital Event at E3, the company revealed Amiibo, their new Skylanders-esque NFC figures which are going to make them millions (and millions) of dollars.

The company today revealed the first wave of Amiibo’s that will be available at retail, and the team consists of Mario, Peach, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Kirby, Fox, Marth, Villager and Wii Fit Trainer. At E3, the big N also showed off Bowser and Pit figures, so I’d imagine that those are coming down the pipeline aswell.

A release date has not been confirmed, but the figures are available for pre-order for a cool $13.99 at select retailers, and will launch this holiday season.

Learn all about Amiibo (which should work with a multitude of future Nintendo games) below, and let us know how many you’ll be picking up!

Bah. I can’t wait to put these on my shelf!

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Geekscape Interviews: ‘As Above, So Below’ Writers & Director Drew & John Erick Dowdle http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-interviews-as-above-so-below-writers-director-drew-john-erick-dowdle http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-interviews-as-above-so-below-writers-director-drew-john-erick-dowdle#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:14:08 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80103 During Power MorphiCon weekend I interviewed As Above, So Below writer/director John Erick Dowdle and writer Drew Dowdle, the brothers behind the newest horror movie from Legendary and Universal Pictures. Filmed inside the actual catacombs beneath Paris, the Dowdles chatted with me about shooting a satanic horror movie while almost losing their sanity in the dark, macabre tunnels full of human remains. It was extremely difficult to imagine as I sat inside the well-lit lobby of the Westin in sunny, 80-degree Pasadena, on my way to a Power Rangers convention.

Film Title: As Above/So Below

JOHN ERICK AND DREW DOWDLES ON SET FOR AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

Geekscape: So I was impressed that you shot it in the actual catacombs. Why was it important for you guys to remain so authentic?

John Erick: When you build something, you just feel, like, it never feels as real as the real thing. Anytime you give someone the real thing, it just adds such depth to the texture of the movie. And you feel the performances. The performances, you can tell seeing this movie, you can tell the actors aren’t stepping off set between takes, sipping a latte and texting their friends. They’re in it, you know, spending ten hours six stories under the ground every day. You can see it in their faces. Like, all of us [became] half-crazy as a result of being down there so much. And it shows! You feel the presence of that space. On our first location scout, we went underground and we all felt, “Oh my god, this is terrifying down here.” And to try to build that and recreate that on set, and be all like, “Okay, everyone, act scared!” It wouldn’t have worked the same way. When you go down there, you feel your chest get tight, your breathing gets shallow, the air is still, and the sound is really weird and tweaky. You just couldn’t fake that.

Drew: When we were talking about doing the movie initially too, it was one of those [conversations]. It was like, if we’re not shooting in the real location, then we almost didn’t think it was worth making the movie! [laughs] It is such a specific place in the world. And if you’re not shooting the real thing, we knew that would be obviously the number one question coming home to. “Is this in the real place?” It has to be. [Questions like] “Do you build some of it? Go somewhere that’s maybe easier to shoot in Paris that might look like this?” To us, none of those were options that were interesting alternative.

Well, you guys succeeded because it came out wonderful.

John Erick: Thanks so much! I really appreciate that.

There is a bit of a video game aesthetic in the movie. I don’t know if that was intentional or not. Like, I was watching the film and it kind of came off like a dungeon crawler in a very literal sense. Were video games at all a point of reference in the making of the film?

John Erick: You know, we didn’t shy away from that, but we didn’t consider that like a reference. And yet we knew that early on in that first sequence when she’s going in that cave, we saw that were like, “Okay, it sorta feels like a first-person shooter,” we thought that was pretty cool. We really wanted to have a camera on Scarlet that was just sort of attached to her clothing, but we realized we wanted to see her a little bit too. Even if it’s just the side of her face, even just a little something so [she's] not totally disembodied. So we sorta went with that aesthetic early on and it really felt effective. So it was pretty cool. It was fun to play with.

Found footage is a difficult genre. For this film it felt necessary, but it is a hard genre. Did you have any hesitations about doing it in this style?

John: We talked about it for like two minutes, and were like, “You know what, this fits this movie.” There’s something to it, about shooting in the catacombs. If you tried to shoot traditional, you know, light and everything in one direction of the room, and then shoot that out, and then switch out all the lights [for the other side], like that would be a nightmare down there. We were like, let’s go really guerilla. Let’s shoot it like you were if you were doing this real. Let’s light the whole thing with the actor’s headlamps. There’s a scene near the end of the movie where they’re standing around the hole, that whole scene was lit literally from Scarlet, the camera from Scarlet’s hand.

Oh, wow.

John Erick: There’s no other light. We had the actors lighting, I’d say 90% of the movie. And probably 30% of the movie was shot by the actors! [laughs] We really went for like, “Let’s see what kind of happy accidents happen. Let’s try not to over-produce it.” And it really ended up, I think, adding to the realness of the movie. And frankly, it was a lot of fun to shoot that way.

Drew: I’d say too, the origin of this particular character was always kind of in a found footage world. We always had an idea that, you know, doing a female archaeologist, kind of one-part Indiana Jones character in a found footage world would be a really interesting movie. So when we conceptualized this initially, it was always kind of in a found footage set. So it never really occurred to us, frankly, to not do it that way in this setting.

(L to R) ZED (ALI MARHYAR), SOUXIE (MARION LAMBERT), GEORGE (BEN FELDMAN) AND BENJI (EDWIN HODGE) IN AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

(L to R) ZED (ALI MARHYAR), SOUXIE (MARION LAMBERT), GEORGE (BEN FELDMAN) AND BENJI (EDWIN HODGE) IN AS ABOVE, SO BELOW.

I picked up on the Indiana Jones similarities, to me she was kind of like Ellen Ripley and Indiana Jones, I thought it was fantastic. But you guys enjoy doing terror in small spaces. You did Devil and Quarantine, and now As Above, So Below. So, are you guys claustrophobic like Benji? (Note: Benji is a character in As Above, So Below and he suffers from claustrophobia.)

[both laugh]

John Erick: It’s actually funny, a little bit. I gotta say, the first time we did a location scout of the real catacombs, we crawled through a hole about the size of like a medicine ball, we crawled through that, and we’re like in a tunnel we had to crawl through on all fours and then there was water and I never really considered [it]. I’m finding all sorts of new fears as a result of this job. [laughs] But like, I never considered myself claustrophobic, but there was a point at which, literally I was having a hard time breathing, like I’m freaking out! Like I’m genuinely terrified! And I had this moment, that if I can’t hack this, they’re gonna have to replace me. And that first location scout they were like, okay, let’s keep going until it feels normal and natural. So we did that first location scout for five hours underground, going deeper and deeper, and one of the people on our team totally lost their mind. They had a total breakdown. So, it was something! It was something down there.

Drew: Yeah, our first scout was actually through that hole on the train tracks that they go through in the movie, was where we entered. On the other side of the hole in reality was about fifty yards of tunnel that’s like, elbows and knees, army style crawling before you can get into a space where you can actually stand up. So for me I’m not very claustrophobic, what I found terrifying personally was the idea that, I’m more of a map person, like I really need to know where I am on the grid, and once you make about three turns in there your sense of direction is gone. And you have no idea which way is out. So not knowing where the exit is and if our guide dropped dead of a heart attack or something, you know, that fear was much more palpable for me than the claustrophobia.

Well, I’m very happy you guys survived. 

[both laugh]

The title, “As Above, So Below“, it refers to confronting your inner demons. As storytellers, why is that attractive?

John Erick: Well, you know, I think going back a little bit to the confined spaces, we always find something terrible happens, it triggers that flight or fight response. If you take flight out of it, the confined spaces take flight out of the equation. It forces characters to face something that terrifies them. You know, frankly, I feel personally in my twenties, like there were so many things that scared me I backed away from, there were plenty of them, and in my late twenties, I’m like, I gotta start hitting these things more head-on. And in doing so, literally every aspect of my life changed. For me that’s been something personally that’s really, I don’t know, made a big difference. I remember a friend of mine, had a kind of metaphor: gotta face life like a boxer, apparently a boxer, like if you lean away, that’s when you get clobbered as a boxer. But if you lean in to the fear, put your face like right into the fear, that is how you box. That’s how you have to fight. In our movies, going through that journey with our characters seeing, you know, if you can’t run away from your fears, you have to face it, and you do, are you better with yourself? How did that change you?

One last thing. Scarlet was a fascinating character. Do you think we’ve seen the last of her?

John Erick: We hope not! We’ll tell you August 31st!

[everyone, including me, laughs]

Drew: Yeah, we’d love to continue these stories. She’s not only a fun character, but such a terrific actress and really fun to work with. Get the band back together, if the audiences want it.

As Above, So Below is in theaters now. Be sure to head here for our review.

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Geekscape Movie Reviews: ‘As Above, So Below’ http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-movie-reviews-as-above-so-below http://www.geekscape.net/geekscape-movie-reviews-as-above-so-below#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80061 I grew up in New Jersey. Being one of the first colonies of the United States, the simple passage of time over generations has given life to urban legends and myths that knowledge of it become as normal as a day in the park. There’s Clinton Road, the Devil’s Tower, the Gates of Hell, the abandoned Lambertville High, Midgetville, and a slew of others I grew up hearing about.  In middle school my friends and I debated what superheroes we would want to be if we fought the Jersey Devil as if he were an anime villain. In high school I went with my buddies on a day trip a few weeks before graduation to the fabled Devil’s Tree, where the Ku Klux Klan used to lynch people. I didn’t see it, but a few years later my friend told me we were tailgated by a pick-up truck on our way out.

It was these stories and places that fueled my fascination for As Above, So Below, the new found-footage horror film from John Erick Dowdle. Set in beautiful Paris and not grungy New Jersey, the film follows a small team of urban explorers as they traverse the catacombs of Paris — you know, the tunnels with REAL SKELETONS everywhere — in search of the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. Leading the group is the brave, smart, but haunted Scarlet Marlowe (The Tudors‘ Perdita Weeks), who is determined to redeem her father’s disgraced legacy and prove the existence of the renamed thing from Harry Potter. With her, an amateur documentary filmmaker Benji (Edwin Hodge) — hence the presence of cameras — and an expert explorer who shares a past with Scarlet, George (Ben Feldman, Mad Men‘s Michael Ginsberg). Coupled with some lively locals, they make up the people we’ll be stuck with miles below Paris.

EDWIN HODGE AS BENJI. HIS PRESENCE GIVES NARRATIVE PURPOSE TO THE CAMERAS.

EDWIN HODGE AS BENJI. HIS PRESENCE GIVES NARRATIVE PURPOSE TO THE CAMERAS.

It’s a found footage film. You kind of know what you’re getting into with this journey. There will be scares around the corner, weird shit chasing after the camera, and a buffet of other horror movie cliches like rocking chairs and singing children. Only now we’re in a tunnel that could have been creepy enough on its own, which I think is the biggest problem with the film: It resorts to tried and true devices when something new really could have been explored.

It is in the characters we must rely on for investment, which makes the film’s journey easy. The central characters range from compelling… to horror movie basic. I’m a big fan of Scarlet Marlowe (but I hate freaking hate her name. She has red hair!). She’s supremely intelligent, brave, but dangerously impulsive. She’s like Indiana Jones and Ellen Ripley, but with a millennial “screw you all, I’m going in” attitude. Her father was disgraced for basically believing in magic, and Scarlet seeks to redeem his name and she does so to the danger of the rest of her peers. She’ll jump right into a tunnel or something at the cost of a co-explorer’s sanity or safety. You have to reason her with yourself: Either she’s horrible for putting lives in danger for the greater good, or everyone knew what they were getting involved in. Because, this is a horror movie of course, and people need to die. There is a moment when I thought everyone would be fine — how weird and kind of cool would it be to see a horror movie where everyone survives? — and then immediately it’s like Game of Thrones. But there is less investment to be had in the secondary and tertiary characters, so you won’t have any Red Wedding moments, unless for some reason you really love them. It’s a bit of a let down too, because there was potential in them. They’re colorful and fun. Sitting in the van just before they explore darkness, they are freestyle rapping and doing De Niro impersonations. But there’s no time for them, only for Scarlett and George, but that’s okay, because Scarlet is a powerful presence on her own.

SCARLETT IS A POWERFUL CENTRAL CHARACTER MORE FILMS NEED. SHE'S LIKE LARA CROFT WITH LIKE THREE PH.D'S.

SCARLETT IS A POWERFUL CENTRAL CHARACTER MORE FILMS NEED. SHE’S LIKE LARA CROFT WITH LIKE THREE PH.D’S.

The environment and location is the film’s true co-star. Ever since I read about the catacombs in a Cracked article, I thought how cool it would be to film a movie down there. But I imagined a fantasy film, the catacombs as the lair of a dark villain. I should have expected the first film to get down there to be a horror movie. But the filmmakers filmed in the actual, prohibited areas of the catacombs, and it’s pretty damn terrifying (A horror movie setting an eerie mood, who could have guessed?). Tight spaces and dark tunnels, make up the film’s physical location for its scares and it fucking WORKS. Echoes! Satanic chants! Screams! It chills to the bone. Dowdles’ previous work include Quarantine and Devil, so I shouldn’t be surprised that terror in tight spaces be his kung-fu style. But major props to the sound engineers, because crumbling rocks have never sounded more terrifying. It is truly the film’s achievement: Something mundane as dust can be used for thrills.

The tunnels being the gates of hell is something out of a fantasy film, but in a found footage flick it becomes something way more personal. Almost all the characters (the important ones, anyway) have some kind of baggage. Scarlet has her father, while the others have their own demons. From families they couldn’t save after accidents to claustrophobia (admittedly too easy of a character trait given the premise), they’re haunted by their own demons and the devil is laughing in their face. It makes for a nice metaphor for confronting fears and overcoming guilt. But it’s also kind of cheap, and although fascinating during the film’s running time, it doesn’t leave much when the credits roll. ”Cheap” isn’t what I’d describe the film in the literal sense — for a found footage film it has remarkable production value, which is an achievement given the skeleton crew (I’m so, so sorry) — but cheap is what I’d have to describe its storytelling. Cliches galore in the film, but it didn’t have to. These people are surrounded by dead people. I don’t get the value of empty chairs.

There is something of a video game structure to the film as well, which is novel given the genre. In the film’s surprisingly gripping climax, the film turns into something like a mix of Mirror’s Edge, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil. One would think found footage would take far more advantage of its video game-ness, but rarely do films actually do. Doom did it, and it was the only fun scene in that whole movie. It’s one more cool thing As Above, So Below does pretty well, even if it probably doesn’t do it with much substance or style.

Film Title: As Above/So Below

As Above, So Below is easily dismissible as another found footage film, but you shouldn’t! Found footage is an extremely difficult genre that has the potential for true, expert cinematic storytelling but has been plagued by amateurs and cheap filmmaking. As Above, So Below rises above (again, I’m so sorry) basic genre rules but is hindered by its own hesitation to venture into truly new territory. It does so many things right — its compelling central character, probably the coolest location to ever film a movie, expert sound design, an interesting take on Christian mythology, remarkable production value, and appropriate horror movie thrills — but it does several big things wrong that might leave the film as just a footnote. The ending doesn’t quite stick or make much sense, and it is unclear what exactly the Philosopher’s Stone purpose or fate was (It can heal people! And then it doesn’t). The film is plagued by horror movie cliches and is wasted in the novel setting. The rest of the characters show flashes of potential that never meet up to what is promised.

As Above, So Below almost takes the troubled genre to a new level, but its scared to do so and is bogged down by its own reservations. The film is kind of like its own characters: Haunted by the genre’s past, it fails to fight back and truly do something daring. What that could have been, I can’t tell you. But the film has enough terror to keep you for ninety minutes, and if you truly let it, the film can be as terrifying as confronting your own personal demons.

As Above, So Below scores a devilish 3/5.

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Download ‘Azure Striker Gunvolt’ And Get ‘Mighty Gunvolt’ For Free! http://www.geekscape.net/download-azure-striker-gunvolt-and-get-mighty-gunvolt-for-free http://www.geekscape.net/download-azure-striker-gunvolt-and-get-mighty-gunvolt-for-free#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 05:25:54 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80198 As if a severe drought of Mega Man style 2D platformers wasn’t enough to catch your attention when Azure Striker Gunvolt is released, then this latest piece of news just might do it.

From the day it releases on August 29th through November 28th, anyone who downloads Gunvolt will also receive a voucher for Mighty Gunvolt, an 8-bit crossover spinoff featuring Gunvolt, Mighty No. 9‘s Beck, and Ekoro from GalGun, a Japan only title. Released as a thank you from developer, Inti Creates, this nostalgic throwback is even more the reason to consider downloading the main game.

Free games are always a great thing, especially when they’re developed by a reliable company like Intl Creates, (who also developed the Mega Man Zero series and the more recent Mega Man 9 and 10). If we’ve been starving for a new game of this type, it looks like we might finally be able to get our fill again. On that note, isn’t it strange for Beck to appear in a game before his own?

Look out for Azure Striker Gunvolt on August 29th, coming exclusively to the Nintendo eShop for $14.99.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLnrtZPqyIw[/width]

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New ‘Destiny’ Video Shows Off Playstation Exclusive Content! http://www.geekscape.net/new-destiny-video-shows-off-playstation-exclusive-content http://www.geekscape.net/new-destiny-video-shows-off-playstation-exclusive-content#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 05:13:53 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80047 Briefly: Following the release of the official launch trailer last week, Bungie and Playstation have debuted a new video that shows off all of Destiny‘s Playstation exclusive (at least for the time being) content.

I’ve been enamoured with Destiny for as long as I can remember, and that feeling was exacerbated by the short time that I’ve been able to spend with it. September 9th really, really can’t come soon enough. I played the Alpha and Beta as much as I possibly could, and in that time Destiny became one of my favourite games of the year. I cannot wait to play the full game, and I cannot wait to learn the full story through its bad-ass companion app (seriously, it’s so well done).

The PS3 and PS4 editions of the game include an exclusive map, strike, and plenty of equipment. Wouldn’t it be nice if it had cross-platform play to go with it?

Take a look at the video below, and let us know what you think. Destiny hits shelves on September 9th.

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Here Are Two Creepy New Teasers For ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ http://www.geekscape.net/here-are-two-creepy-new-teasers-for-american-horror-story-freak-show http://www.geekscape.net/here-are-two-creepy-new-teasers-for-american-horror-story-freak-show#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 04:56:17 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80043 Briefly: Following the reveal of the season premiere date last week, and a new teaser a few days ago, FX has debuted two more creepy teasers for October’s American Horror Story: Freak Show.

Titled ‘Lick’ and ‘Spotlight’, both short videos are pretty equally disturbing… and exciting.

Take a look at the teasers below, and let us know if you’ll be tuning in when Freak Show premieres on October 8th.

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Watch A New Trailer For CW’s ‘The Flash’! http://www.geekscape.net/watch-a-new-trailer-for-cws-the-flash http://www.geekscape.net/watch-a-new-trailer-for-cws-the-flash#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 04:47:39 +0000 http://www.geekscape.net/?p=80040 Briefly: We’re just over a month away from the highly anticipated premiere of CW’s The Flash (though you’ve probably already seen the pilot), and following yesterday’s new poster, the network has debuted a cool new trailer for the intriguing show.

The trailer looks to consist of mostly pilot footage (making it far less exciting if you’ve already seen it), but it definitely does a pretty great job at garnering excitement for the show.

Take a look at the video below, and let us know if you’re looking forward to the series! The Flash premieres on October 7th!

Based upon characters published by DC Comics. Through a freak accident, scientist Barry Allen is given the power of super speed that transforms him into the Fastest Man Alive.

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