by Jaydot Sloane | 12:26 pm, April 18th, 2014
by Jill Pantozzi | 12:33 pm, April 11th, 2014
When we first heard there was going to be a horror film starring both Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan and Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff, we knew it was a must-see. Lucky for us, we were invited to an early screening of Relativity Media’s Oculus to see the horror for ourselves. We’re not ashamed to say, we’re still shaking in our boots.READ MORE
by Zoe Chevat | 12:30 pm, February 24th, 2014
Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, The Wind Rises, kicks off with a very literal dream of flight. Our hero, the loosely biographied Dr. Jiro Horikoshi, is here a near-sighted, bright teenager who, unable to become a pilot, longs to become an aeronautic engineer. He dreams he is flying a fantasy craft with bird-like wings and a whooshing hydraulic engine, soaring above the farmlands where he has grown up, and waving to townsfolk below.
But his beautiful dream is interrupted by the appearance of a nightmarish ship emblazoned with the Iron Cross, carrying a payload of animal-shaped bombs. This vision, which startles Jiro awake, is a symbol of a world and a life to come, one balanced between incredible feats of ingenuity, and the maladies wrought by history. The Wind Rises shares this polarity. A frequently moving, absolutely stunning piece of animated work, The Wind Rises showcases many of Miyazaki’s visual obsessions, as well as themes that echo throughout his oeuvre. It also contains within its mesmerizing shell a number of questions on the morality of war and technology that, in spit of the great buildup regarding them, remain unanswered.
Mild spoilers beyond the cut.READ MORE
by Becky Chambers | 12:30 pm, January 10th, 2014
The scene is instantly familiar to anyone who knows games. An adventurer, shedding pink hearts and gold coins, falls onto the bloody floor. “Continue?” the screen asks, a countdown ticking away. There is no way to say yes. The countdown ends, and those final, crushing words appear: “Game Over.” It is then that the game begins.
I thought I knew the question Continue?9876543210 was asking. I have, in the past, considered the final moments of the ubiquitous Dead Adventurer corpses I’ve looted elsewhere. I knew they believed in their quests as strongly as my character did. Mine was just lucky. I thought that Continue? was a play on that, a story about the failed hero who couldn’t let her quest go. And it is. In part. If you only give Continue? one try, that’s all it will be. Keep going. It’s so much more.READ MORE
by Becky Chambers | 12:30 pm, January 3rd, 2014
When I was a kid, Christmas morning often involved the unwrapping of a new computer game. Once all the other presents had been revealed and appreciated, I’d spend the rest of the morning sitting diligently in front of the family computer, nibbling a chocolate Santa and waiting for the game to install. This could take hours, but the waiting was important. Some games would autoplay as soon as installation was complete. I couldn’t risk missing part of the intro. And some games had multiple installation disks, which required switching when prompted. Stepping away from the computer meant the prompt would sit there unnoticed, whittling away whole minutes of play time.
I remember those mornings fondly. That level of reverence and restraint is rarer for me these days. I have mentioned this to a number of friends over the past couple weeks, especially while perusing the Steam Winter Sale. I love the Winter Sale, but it makes me aware of a shift in my perspective. I appreciated getting a new game so much more when I was younger. The idea of backlogs and cheap bundles would’ve been baffling to me (they still are, in a way). Recently, I have found myself wistful for the days when less meant more.
As it turns out, this is the perfect mindset for playing Heroine’s Quest.READ MORE
by Jill Pantozzi | 12:30 pm, December 26th, 2013
This was it. Your last Smithmas.READ MORE
by Zoe Chevat | 12:34 pm, December 23rd, 2013
Falling in love, as the movies are wont to tell us, is difficult enough. Muddy the waters by including an artificial intelligence in your equation, and you’re sure to come upon catastrophe. Or so you’d think. An original movie with an unoriginal premise, her is the story of a man and his machine, and the tangled web of questioning sentience, codependence, and love they weave together. Based on nothing so much as the entire trope of the Magical Girlfriend, her works harder than just about anything I’ve seen to circumvent the problems inherent in its own premise, and it doesn’t quite get there. Sure, Weird Science this ain’t, but her never quite reaches the heights of class that it aspires to. The result is a film that can be deeply troubling, but not for the reasons it intends.
Do not consult your OS. There are SPOILERS within.READ MORE
by Becky Chambers | 1:00 pm, November 29th, 2013
A little girl named Didi lies alone in her bedroom. Her mother is out working for the night, singing love songs at the local cabaret. Her father hasn’t been home for some time. When Didi asked whether he’d return, her mother replied, “Maybe when he’s ready.” She has no siblings, no apparent friends — except one, who appeared without explanation, and who no one else can see. An acrobat, looking a little like Didi’s mother (and a lot like Amanda Palmer during her Dresden Dolls days). Her name is Dawn, and in her world, no one exists but Didi. Of the others, she sees only shadows, cast by adults having conversations beyond her companion’s understanding.
A magical premise, and one so original I’d already fallen halfway in love with Contrast from the trailer alone. But as I played, I found that this puzzle platformer has much in common with the younger of its two protagonists — a good soul, but a troubled one.READ MORE
by Becky Chambers | 12:33 pm, November 15th, 2013
I have always been protective of my little brother. As kids, we had adventures in our backyard together, turning over rocks, watching animals, building things. I was an inquisitive kid, a bit skittish, but never so much that it prevented me from poking things to figure out what they did. The backyard was a magical place, as were parks and seashores. I spent a lot of time inside, too, though. I had a fierce love for adventure games.
Every single one of these bases is covered in Lilly Looking Through. It’s no surprise that I took to it immediately.READ MORE
by Zoe Chevat | 12:56 pm, November 11th, 2013
These are dark times. Dark and gritty times. Or so it would seem from our choices at the box office, where trends kicked up (but hardly established) by the Nolanverse Batman films continue to cloud every superhero franchise for miles around. This is a land where wonderment is traded for plot expedience, story pacing replaced by gorgeous, if rampant, CGI. Thor: The Dark World is no exception, being as dark as its title suggests. Fun to watch, but ultimately only slightly more substantial than its predecessor, T:TDW suffers from being the middle chapter of its series, if not a smaller piece in the giant puzzle that is the MCU. Its visual clout may be mighty, but its story lacks punch.
Engage at your peril, for through this ethereal portal lie SPOILERS.READ MORE