Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THIS JUST OUT: Past-blasting edition

Posted on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 9:32 AM

Every Tuesday, all the latest video games, DVDs and CDs are released, taunting you with their entertainment possibilities. In order that we might entice you further into wasting your hard-earned money on tasteless tsotchkes, here's a run-down of what's out today. (Read previous posts.)

MUSIC
Now 35, Various Artists
OMG, you guys! Since this week in releases is already like a blast from the past (of zombies!) with Papa Roach, Sum 41 and the Goo Goo Dolls, why not spotlight the CDs everyone bought before they were cool enough to know what music they were told was cool? If for some reason the half-dozen Clear Channel radio stations in your town are on the fritz and you just can't find any Top 40 hits from last year, this is the anarchic media format for you! NOW 35 features "California Gurls" by Katy Perry, some track by the Biebster and a Nickelback song released last November. Nickelback, you guys! OMG weren't they just the awesomzorrzz??!?! I'm gonna slide on my Jellies, frost my hair tips, put this in my Discman and RAWK OUT! But wait ... the U.K. version of NOW is up to No. 76. We have to beat them!! Or the terrorists win, you guys! (The Brits are terrorists, right? You've tasted their food.)

  • Time for Annihilation ... On the Record, and on the Road, Papa Roach — It's loud, it's angry and the title is ridiculously long. "Sex addicts, drugs and vampires — they permeate my life. Don't know which one I'm gonna be tonight" are the lyrics to the second track, "One Track Mind," so you pretty much know what you're getting into. Oh, and the last song is a live version of "Last Resort." Because apparently we're partying like it's 1999. Wait, I'm sorry, that song came out in 2000. How mean of me to imply they were playing off an 11-year-old song in a desperate attempt to get people to like them again. They're doing it with a 10-year-old song. Much better.
  • Screaming Bloody Murder, Sum 41 — Speaking of angry music, this one's got a track called "Scumf**k." I could really type anything here, because people who liked Sum 41 in seventh grade are going to buy this, and people who didn't, won't. La la la. You don't care at all what this is saying, as long as the end of it has something like "if you like Papa Roach, you should definitely buy this album." If you like Papa Roach, you should definitely buy this album.
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game, Anamanaguchi — I pimped this when the game came out, but now the soundtrack is available for the world to hear. The normal folk may not understand the wonder and magnificence of chiptune, but we know better, right? OK, I know 98 percent of the human species has probably never even heard the portmanteau "chiptune," but trust me, this is the perfect music for a generation weaned on Super Nintendos and Sega Genesises. (5 Linguistics Points for an awesome pluralization. You'd think it would be "geneses," but then you probably think the plural of Linux is Linuces.)
  • Something for the Rest of Us, Goo Goo Dolls — Stretching their release streak into the fourth decade, the Goo Goo Dolls' latest album's track listing reads like a Philosophy 101 student's poetry: "As I Am," "Now I Hear," "Nothing is Real." Contest time! Try to incorporate at least two track titles from this CD into a haiku. The winner gets my eternal scorn. The losers get to salvage some dignity.
  • Women and Children Last, Murderdolls — Somehow, it seems like this service to have your ashes pressed into your favorite vinyl is the perfect fit for a band called Murderdolls. Funnily enough, originally I read the name of the group as "Murderopolis," You would imagine the police force would be pretty good in Murderopolis, since they'd have be crazy to want to work there in the first place. But I bet the schools are terrible.
  • American Bang, American Bang — The only thing I know about this band is they got deleted from Wikipedia. How do you like them apples, Wikipedia? Who's got an album now? (Note: I still have to check Wikipedia to see if Wikipedia has released an album. I imagine it would be nothing but awful covers of public domain songs. Or *shudder* "crowdsourced" music.)

DVDs
House: Season Six
What more evidence could one need that television is vastly outpacing cinema than having the best DVD releases the past two weeks in a row be TV shows? (Note: If for some reason you require more evidence, movies released in theaters the last two weeks include Takers, The Switch, Piranha 3-D, Nanny McPhee, Lottery Ticket and Vampires Suck, continuing ad infinitum.) Season six of House gave us one of the better "nutting out in a mental hospital" plot lines in the season opener, which set the mood for an experimental season. Though not all of the ideas worked out perfectly, a number of creative — and potentially risky — approaches to storytelling broke up the expected "get a case, everything goes wrong, someone lies, House saves the day" formula. And though venturing out of a show's comfort zone can be hazardous (see the last season of How I Met Your Mother), it's the best way to keep viewers coming back for more. Plus, there's plenty of hot Huddy action.
  • Made For Each Other — In the grand tradition of hiring actors who can easily be confused for more famous actors, the dopplegänger of Neil Patrick Harris has been trapped in a sex-less marriage for three (!!) months — which he apparently discusses in great detail with his friends, co-workers and the entire neighborhood, including the extra-elderly couple door. He eventually sexes up another woman, and decides the only way to fix things is to get his wife to cheat on him. I'd say it's too stupid to be believed, but the only thing dumber than expecting a woman who won't have sex with her husband to have sex with someone else is for a huge horndog to marry said woman in the first place. Add in some Family Guy-esque cutaways and a postmodern character who stands around doing a crossword puzzle with answers that explain story terms — "exposition," "foreshadowing" — and you've got what passes for a modern indie movie. Save your time/money and watch an Obama speech (president, not candidate Obama) — it's slightly less boring, and his dulcet monotone is much easier to fall asleep to. ---
  • Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married, Too? — Few things are guaranteed in life: Death, taxes, McDonald's stops serving breakfast at 10:30 (I just wanted an Egg McMuffin! Do the round egg-slabs magically transform into chicken nuggets or something?) and Tyler Perry keeps getting to make movies. Only this time, Tyler Perry's formula is so blatant he actually made a sequel to one of his other ridiculously formulaic movies. I mean, even M. Night Shyamalan's going to be prevented from making movies again. If God actually cares about human suffering, that is.
  • FlashForward: The Complete Series — I had a strange experience. One day, I woke up sometime in the evening, just sitting there on my couch — completely unaware of how I had gotten there. After looking around for clues, I finally figured out I had spent the previous hour watching FlashForward. That explained the giant hole in my memory. Oh well, at least they can call season one "the complete series," since it was canceled faster than I could fast-forward through an episode.
  • Marmaduke — Am I the only one who saw the posters for this movie and thought about how incredibly stupid it was not to have the title anywhere? Then again, if I was trying to promote this pile of ... [something that's not a pun-tastic reference to dog-doo], I wouldn't want people to know which movie to avoid, either.
  • Harry Brown — Michael Caine is an out-and-out badass. Oh, also he plays one in this movie. In the title role, Caine takes a page out of Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino script and starts bashing bozos. The impetus (Leonard, his chess and drinking buddy, gets roughed up by hooligans) is unimportant. What you need to know is Caine can still deliver some serious hurt, whether it's shooting a crack dealer in the face or torching a marijuana nursery.
  • Sons of Anarchy: Season Two — My mom says I'm not allowed to watch this show, but our in-house TV guy (by which I mean he literally lives inside an old '50s-era tube television set) says it's the bee's knees. (I think the mercury and lead inside the TV may be getting to him.) I mean, read this sentence from a story about the show's Emmy snub: "'Sons' star Katey Sagal was a shock omission for her role as the gang-raped matriarch of a close-knit motorcycle club when nominations were announced last month ..." I don't usually pass judgment on a microculture's social heirarchy (biker-centric or not), but Double-you. Tee. Eff.

VIDEO GAMES
Metroid: Other M
(Wii)

Officially, this a sequel to the original Metroid (released in 1994), which technically served as the continuation of the prequel trilogy that came out for the GameCube and the Wii. Sufficiently confused? Good to hear. Like most Wii games, it provides a decent combination of traditional gameplay with Wii-specific maneuvers to take advantage of the Wiimote. Though heavier on story than past iterations, it doesn't detract from the gameplay: You're still the genderless (OK, Samus is female, but you can't tell under the armor) bounty hunter out to kill anything that so much as twitches. Free-roaming adventures are nice (as opposed to the side-scrolling shenanigans in all iterations save Metroid: Prime), but apparently a free-floating camera is still impossible to implement properly on the Wii — which comes as no surprise given the whopping eight buttons available. Hope you don't ever have to go back in a level, because the pre-programmed camera doesn't swivel around to show you where you're heading. There are some bizarre choices made by the developers, chief among them the ability-learning system. Where in the past Samus would have to upgrade herself in order to gain abilities, in Other M she already has them, but "respects her commanding officer" and so deactivates all her abilities, and will only reactivate them on his order. As we all know from playing racing games that advertise cruising around in Ferraris and proceed to force you to careen around in a Ford Windstar for half the game, the best part of playing games is not being able to use the features advertised on the box until after an arbitrary amount of game time has passed. That aside, Other M is still Metroid, and still enjoyable; just with a few caveats.

  • Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (XBLA) — Though delayed in Japan for "inappropriate language" (Really, Japan? Tentacle rape = A-OK, but naughty words are out?), this downloadable prequel to the sequel of the best game yet released for the XBOX 360 (go back to your Warthogs, you 13-year-old Halo-heads). It's basically an introduction to the world of Dead Rising for those who haven't played the game. For those who have the played the first, it'll update you on what's happened in the game-world since the first one. Be warned, however: It'll be like a zombie chowing down on a toddler. Sure, there's a little bit of brain in there, but it's just going to leave you ravenously hungry for the real thing.
  • Cthulhu Saves the World (XBLA) — I'm all for any publicity for the much-maligned octopus-mustachioed monster. Only available on Xbox Live Arcade (and it'll probably stay that way, given the fact it's being developed by Microsoft), this 8-bit (HD) RPG is being developed by the same minds behind Breath of Death VII, which by all accounts was well worth the price of admission. Though the pixelated graphics mean we won't get to see Cthulu in the mind-wrenching glory he deserves, here's an animated GIF of the adorable "pulpy, tentacled head surmount[ing] a grotesque scaly body with rudimentary wings."
  • IGT Slots: Wolf Run (PC) — It's like a slot machine (with wolves! [apparently]), except it's on your computer. And you have to pay for it. So you're guaranteed to be out money at the end of the day. Targeted toward the habitual gambler for whom having the odds overwhelming stacked against him isn't enough; he wants to lose even after he's won.
  • Guilty Party (Wii) — A hybrid of "Guess Who?" and "Clue," this $60 board-game replacement probably isn't going to be worth the full retail price. Because it's Nintendo, there's a "party" mode that allows for up to four people to be frustrated at once. In the long run, it'll be cheaper — and possibly less frustrating — to just go buy "Monopoly" or something and just watch TV after the inevitable fight over whether the banker's stealing 50s. (Fool! Always steal the 20s: There's a more plentiful supply, and no one ever notices.)
  • Gummy Bears Mini Golf (Wii) — Sometimes, I worry that all creative industries (Hollywood, TV, video games) are running out of ideas. But then the Gummy Bears mini golf game comes along to reassure me. The one question I always wondered about The Gummy Bears TV show (when they weren't "bouncing here and there and everywhere" like the Tigger rip-offs they were) was about the yellow one, Sunni Gummy. The incredibly fey gelatinous fellow was so androgynous I could never tell what gender it was supposed to be. I mean, half of the Gummies didn't wear pants, so I don't even know if the distinction between the different kinds (flavors?) of Gummy genitalia is important or even noticeable. Wait, what were we talking about again?
  • Camp Rock Final Jam (DS) — They say it's the final jam (strawberry, I hope!). But they say that all the time. It never stops. There's always more to be squeezed out. IT NEVER ENDS.

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