Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Assorted Recommendations

If I'm going to go to the trouble of writing down my opinion of something, I'd better have a darn good opinion to express. Otherwise, why waste the effort? I have no desire to spend an hour or two writing up a detailed review of a wholly unremarkable book or movie, and it's not my style to write only a few sentences about something and call it a post.

Even when I do have a good opinion to express, it's often the case that I don't have enough to say about the subject to warrant a full review, or else I lack the interest to say everything that's just waiting to be loosed from my noggin. Alex gets away with short reviews of comics every week in his Waiting for Wednesday posts, but most of the things I have to review are all over the board and don't fit into any one category.

That's why the rest of today's post will consist of random recommendations of things that have caught my attention recently and would like to share with you. Ready, go!

Anime - Black Lagoon

Main Characters of Black LagoonAn average Japanese businessman runs into a trio of fortune-seeking, seafaring mercenaries and, somehow, becomes a part of their crew. There's the tough and wise leader guy, the laid-back techie guy, and the rough-and-tumble gunslinging girl. And, spoiler alert, they blow up a helicopter by launching their boat into the air and firing off a torpedo. AWESOME. Watch it.

Comics - Batman in the Forties
Batman in the 40s
This is a great collection of some of the best and most important Batman comics from the 1940s, ranging from Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (which was technically released in 1939) to the story that explains why the heck there is a jumbonormous penny sitting around in the Batcave in every Batman comic I've ever read.

It's a neat look at the early history of the Caped Crusader, and it's fascinating to see how little Batman has really changed since his creation. Read it.

Music - Michael Jackson

I've always enjoyed Michael Jackson's work, but I never realized how much I enjoyed it until fairly recently. I fully expected the airwaves to be rife with his music in the weeks following his death, but even now, several months later, I can usually find at least one of his songs on the radio before too long, and I can't say that of any other musician or band except for probably The Beatles.

Yet, somehow, I'm not sick of him yet.

Michael Jackson Number OnesI had little interest in all the news surrounding his death, and I only own one compilation CD of his songs (which I purchased about a year or two ago), so it's not as though I'm a huge fan. But I've been rapidly growing weary of the same blend of generic classic rock and modern pop hits that has taken over most of the radio stations in my area; with only minor variation, it's the exact same music on too many stations.

I can't explain it, but Michael Jackson is one of the few artists who is on EVERY station who doesn't bother me for being omnipresent. A lot of it, I suspect, has to do with the fact that his lyrics often have much more meaning than your typical mainstream radio ditties do.

Anyhow, "Billy Jean," "Man in the Mirror," and "Black or White," are a few of my top picks of the moment, so give 'em a listen if you haven't already been overwhelmed and heard them 8.5 bajillion times already.

Video Games - Muramasa: The Demon Blade

I'm strictly a Nintendo man, and it broke my heart when they released the Nintendo 64 in the mid-90s and basically stopped making 2-D platformers (my favorite game genre). The only new, non-sequel platformers I've played since then have all been on my computer, and most of those have been Flash games I've found online. I'm quite happy to have found 2-D Metroid, Mega Man, and Mario sequels in the modern era of gaming... but they're all for handheld systems. 2-D platformers on a console system are a thing of the past.

At least, that's what I thought.

Imagine my surprise when I tried out Muramasa: The Demon Blade, a 2-D action-platformer for the Nintendo Wii. You play as either a ninja dude or a ninja chick, you slice apart hordes of monsters and evil ninjas, you've got a huge array of swords with special powers (just like Crystalis--bonus points!), and the music and graphics are both gorgeous.

Muramasa battle screenshotThough the locations and enemies do become repetitious, Muramasa is one of the most consistently fun games I've played in a long, long time. If you die, you start back at the beginning of the battle where you died, and any items you used during the fight are magically restored; there's no slogging back from a distant save point or grinding for gold to buy back those precious items you lost.

There are two difficulty settings, one that appeals to diehard fighting game fans, and another that caters to casual fans who just want to beat up ninjas and have fun; yet, it doesn't feel like the options are "Frustratingly Impossible" and "Stupidly Easy," and you can switch back and forth between the two at any time in case the challenge is too much or too little.

muramasa boss battle screenshotAlright, that's about as much as I dare say about Muramasa; any more, and I'll need to scrap the rest of this post and write a full-blown review of the game instead. Play it.

Food - Reese's Whipps

It's like a Three Musketeers bar, but with a smooth and creamy peanut butter filling. Eat it.
Reese's Whipps

No comments: